New bill aims to ease MU reporting rules

Flex-IT Act would allow for 90-day reporting period
By Mike Miliard
10:51 AM
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Capitol

Just one day after a chorus of industry groups implored HHS to reconsider its burdensome Stage 2 attestation requirements, a new bi-partisan bill seeks to offer providers meaningful relief.

[See also: Calls for Stage 2 changes grow louder]

Republican North Carolina Congresswoman Renee Ellmers introduced H.R.  5481, The Flexibility in Health IT Reporting (Flex-IT) Act of 2014, on Tuesday.

Co-sponsored with Democratic Utah Rep. Jim Matheson, the new legislation is crafted to offer providers more flexibility in showing meaningful use compliance. Specifically, according to Ellmers' office, it would remedy HHS' "short-sighted final rule" requiring 365 days of EHR reporting in 2015.

The Flex-IT Act would allow providers to report their technology upgrades in 2015 through a 90-day reporting period as opposed to a full year. It would be welcome relief for legions of providers, who say the shortened reporting window would help them better manage meaningful use's many onerous mandates.

"The meaningful use program has many important provisions that seek to usher our health care providers into the digital age," said Ellmers in a press statement. "But instead of working with doctors and hospitals, HHS is imposing rigid mandates that will cause unbearable financial burdens on the men and women who provide care to millions of Americans. Dealing with these inflexible mandates is causing doctors, nurses, and their staff to focus more on avoiding financial penalties and less on their patients.

With just 9 percent of U.S. hospitals and 1 percent eligible professionals having successfully met Stage 2 requirements with 2014 Edition Certified Electronic Health Record Technology, it's clear that HHS's requirements and deadlines are unrealistic, Ellmers argues.

By giving providers the option to choose any three-month quarter for the EHR reporting period in 2015 to qualify for MU, "hundreds of thousands of providers" would have a better shot of meeting Stage 2 requirements safely and effectively.

"The Flex-IT Act will provide the flexibility providers need while ensuring that the goal of upgrading their technologies is still being managed," said Ellmers. "I’m excited to introduce this important bill and look forward to it quickly moving on to a vote."

Read the bill here.