Electronic Health Records

Policy & Regulation News

CMS Addresses Changes to the EHR Incentive Programs in 2017

The federal agency offered guidance on meaningful use reporting requirements for the EHR Incentive Programs in the coming year.

By Kate Monica

CMS explains how the CY 2017 Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) and Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Final Rule, which the federal agency estimates will increase OPPS payments by 1.7 percent and ASC rates by 1.9 percent, will affect the EHR Incentive Programs.

Specifically, one FAQ focuses on the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program in 2017 and provider obligations for fulfilling Modified Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements.

Modified Stage 2 includes two objectives for EPs that eliminate the five-percent threshold in favor of a measure that requires providers to see at least one patient during the EHR reporting period. In regards to secure electronic messaging, Modified Stage 2 eliminates the five-percent threshold and instead requires that the patient’s capability to send and receive a secure electronic message is fully activated during the EHR reporting period. CMS states:

In the 2017 OPPS/ASC final rule, we stated that time and cost limitation concerns related to the 2015 Edition upgrades made it unfeasible for new participants to attest to the Stage 3 objectives and measures in 2017 in the EHR Incentive Program Registration and Attestation System. We finalized that all new EPs and eligible hospitals seeking to avoid the 2018 payment adjustment or any new participating CAH in 2017 seeking to avoid the 2017 payment adjustment would have to attest to Modified Stage 2 objectives and measures. This requirement is for those who attest to CMS through the EHR Incentive Program Registration and Attestation system. In the final rule we stated that this change would apply to Medicaid providers who usually attest to their State. However, we clarify further that this provision is only applicable to Medicaid providers who are dual-eligible and attest to CMS through the EHR Incentive Program Registration and Attestation system.

The online posting also addresses the policy for measure calculation for actions outside of the EHR reporting period for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs beginning in 2017:

In the 2017 OPPS/ASC final rule we finalized changes for meaningful use measures (unless otherwise specified), actions included in the numerator must occur within the EHR reporting period if that period is a full calendar year, or if it is less than a full calendar year, within the calendar year in which the EHR reporting period occurs. Meaning that all actions in the numerator must occur between January 1st and December 31st for all calendar years beginning in 2017.

Under this policy, Modified Stage 2 will address objectives and measures ranging from protecting patient health information (Security Risk Analysis) to public health reporting.

Modified Stage 3 will address objectives and measures including patient electronic access to health information (“Patient Specific Educational Resources”) and patient engagement-related care coordination (VDT and secure messaging).

The FAQ page on the CMS website includes more information regarding the EHR Incentive Programs.

Dig Deeper:

Return on Investments Remain a Problem for Meaningful Use
How Providers Performed in Stage 2 Meaningful Use




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