GAO urges CMS to tighten meaningful use verification

GAO identified ways CMS could be more efficient in meaningful use verification.

WASHINGTON – There is room for improving how the government measures whether hospitals and physicians have met the requirements for meaningful use of EHRs to prevent improper payments, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

GAO made four recommendations to CMS in order to improve processes to verify whether providers met program requirements for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR programs, including opportunities for efficiencies.

HHS agreed with three of GAO’s recommendations, but disagreed with the fourth – that CMS offer to collect certain information on states’ behalf. GAO continues to believe this action is an important step to yield potential cost savings, GAO officials said in their report.

GAO recommendations aim to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of processes to verify whether providers meet program requirements for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR programs. The administrator of CMS should establish time frames for expeditiously implementing an evaluation of the effectiveness of the agency’s audit strategy for the Medicare EHR program, GAO officials said.

The administrator of CMS should evaluate the extent to which the agency should conduct more verifications on a prepayment basis when determining whether providers meet Medicare EHR program’s reporting requirements, and also should collect the additional information from Medicare providers during attestation that CMS suggested states collect from Medicaid providers during attestation. Finally, GAO said CMS should offer states the option of having CMS collect meaningful use attestations from Medicaid providers on their behalf.