Electronic Health Records

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CMS Clarifies Meaningful Use Requirements for Public Health

By Sara Heath

After the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) modified the CMS EHR Incentive Programs for 2015-2017, several medical professionals expressed concern about being able to meet some of the revised requirements for the next reporting period. To address those concerns, CMS released a frequently asked questions list, and specifically addressed concerns regarding public health reporting.

CMS explains conditions under which providers and hospitals can claim public health reporting exceptions for meaningful use

The question at hand references potential need for provider exemptions in public health reporting for meaningful use 2015-2017. For example, prior to the release of the modifications, several providers were not planning on attesting to public health measures. Now, those providers are seeking alternate exceptions for those measurements.

CMS explains protocol for eligible physicians (EPs) and hospitals attesting to both Stage 1 and Stage 2 Meaningful Use. The agency also explains the alternate exceptions providers may claim for the reporting period 2015.

For those EPs attesting to Stage 1, they will need to attest to at least one of the public health reporting measures. They may attest an alternate exception for two of the other measures.

EPs attesting to Stage 2 must attest to two of the three measures. They may select one measure for an Alternative Exclusion. However, one of the two measures these EPs attest must be measure 1. EPs attesting Stage 2 may only claim alternate exception on measures 2 or 3.

Hospitals attesting to Stage 1 must attest to at least two public health reporting measures, and may claim alternative exception on any remaining measures.

Hospitals attesting to Stage 2 must attest to three out of the four measures. However, the only measure that they may claim an alternative exception on is measure 3.

CMS also reiterated that it was not their intention to make the public health reporting measures more cumbersome when updating the Stage 2 rules.

We do not intend to inadvertently penalize providers for their inability to meet measures that were not required under the previous stages of meaningful use.  Nor did we intend to require providers to engage in new activities during 2015, which may not be feasible after the publication of the final rule in order to successfully demonstrate meaningful use in 2015,” the organization said.

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