MU tech glitch may cost docs millions

'We can see why (providers) are unhappy.'
By Government Health IT Staff
10:01 AM
Stressed man with head on laptop
A technical glitch in the reporting system of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services meaningful use program could cost physicians millions of dollars in penalties.
A CMS rule, published Aug. 29, let EHR users show compliance with the meaningful use program using older forms of technology, provided they do so by Oct. 1. The rule was intended to make it easier to qualify for meaningful use incentive payments.
But some doctors using older EHRs said that CMS won't be ready to register their actions until mid-October and, as a result, will have 1 percent of their 2015 Medicare payments withheld, according to a report from Politico.
The glitch was revealed earlier this month in a meeting with EHR vendors, Politico reported, citing Mark Segal, vice president for government and industry affairs at GE Healthcare IT. Providers who show they complied with the meaningful use program this year will get incentive payments for 2014 but will suffer penalties for 2015, he said. "We can see why they are unhappy," Segal said, according to Politico.
The number of doctors affected by the problem could number in the thousands, Politico noted, adding that CMS has not commented on the issue yet. This year, more than 2,300 doctors and other eligible healthcare workers showed meaningful use with the 2014 certified electronic health record technology.
Difficulties in complying with the reporting programs related to EHRs have caught the attention of Congress.
Earlier this month, in fact, new legislation was introduced in Congress to offer providers more flexibility in showing meaningful use compliance. The bill would remedy HHS' "short-sighted final rule" requiring 365 days of EHR reporting in 2015.
Called, the The Flexibility in Health IT Reporting, or Flex-IT, Act of 2014, it would allow providers to report their technology upgrades in 2015 through a 90-day reporting period as opposed to a full year. It would help providers, who say the shortened reporting window would help them better manage meaningful use's many onerous mandates.
By allowing providers to have 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," said Congresswoman Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., a sponsor of the bill.
This story first appeared in Government Health IT here