Senators reintroduce EHR Regulatory Relief Act to dramatically change meaningful use

The proposed legislation would remove the all-or-nothing approach of meaningful use and extend flexibility for hardship exemptions and payment adjustments.
By Tom Sullivan
02:52 PM
EHR Regulatory Relief Act

A group of United States Senators on Thursday put forth legislation intended to reduce the burden that using EHRs and attesting to the meaningful use incentive program put on doctors.

“Our bill ensures that unnecessary regulatory burdens do not continue to negatively affect providers’ ability to leverage technology to improve patient care,” said Senator John Thune, R-South Dakota. “With such strong and continued support for this legislation, I’m hopeful it will lead to swift and meaningful action in the Senate.”

[Also: Meaningful Measures specifics emerge: CMS program will track 18 areas]

Along with Thune, Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, and Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, signed the original EHR Regulatory Relief Act in June 2016 and reintroduced it on Thursday.

Alexander, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, cited American Medical Association data that doctors spend two hours in the EHR and desk work for every hour they treat patients. “I encourage the Senate to pass this bill to take a step towards getting our electronic health records system out of the ditch,” Alexander said.

[Also: Meaningful Measures show CMS, ONC commitment to deregulation]

The five-page bill calls for “a 90-day period for the determination of whether a MIPS eligible professional or eligible hospital is a meaningful EHR user and to remove the all-or-nothing approach to meaningful use, and for other purposes.”

The proposal would grant hospitals “any continuous 90-day period” for EHR reporting for fiscal 2019 and subsequent years.

“The Secretary shall determine that an eligible hospital is a meaningful EHR user for the EHR reporting period for such fiscal years using a methodology specified by the Secretary through rulemaking based on performance with respect to objectives and measures established by the Secretary that are met by an eligible hospital,” the bill states. “Such methodology shall allow an eligible hospital to be a meaningful EHR user if they achieve 70 percent (or a portion between 50 and 70 percent) of such measures or if they achieve a composite score (as determined by the Secretary through rulemaking) based on such measures.”

[Also: Meet 'Meaningful Measures,' the initiative CMS says will reduce regulatory burden]

The EHR Regulatory Relief Act also extends flexibility for providers seeking hardship exemptions for the 2017 EHR reporting period and payment adjustments for 2019.

“The use of electronic health records has the potential to revolutionize patient care,” Enzi said. “But if we want electronic health records to work for providers and patients, we have to provide relief from unrealistic and burdensome requirements and build flexibility within the program.”



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