Bill would give ambulatory surgery centers EHR incentives for meaningful use

Physicians practicing in ASCs are excluded under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009.
By Susan Morse
10:55 AM
congressional meeting

Congress on Wednesday will consider legislation to allow physicians working in ambulatory surgical centers to receive the same payment incentives for meaningful use of electronic health records as doctors in other settings.

Currently, physicians practicing in ambulatory surgical centers are excluded because ambulatory surgery centers were not covered under the provisions of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009.

HITECH created incentives for adopting electronic health record technology in the physician office and hospital settings.

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"Physicians with patient encounters in an ambulatory surgical center are at a disadvantage when attempting to meet meaningful use requirements because there currently is not certified EHR technology for such centers," according to the Electronic Health Fairness Act, H.R. 887, introduced by in February by Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn.

The bill went to the Senate which released an amended version in S. 1347.

The amendment says that until such time as EHR technology is certified specifically for use in the ambulatory surgical centers, patient encounters that occur in such a center should not be used when calculating whether an eligible professional meets meaningful use requirements.

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CMS defines a meaningful EHR user as an eligible professional having 50 percent or more of the professional's outpatient encounters at practices equipped with EHR technology.

The clause shall no longer apply three years after the Department of Health and Human Services certifies EHR technology for the ambulatory surgical center setting.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse