CMS finalizes rules affecting EHR incentive reporting, e-prescribing

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' final 2013 payment rules for hospitals, physicians and others contain a number of provisions that can significantly impact the use of electronic health records. The rules, which go into effect Jan. 1, 2013, primarily address payment changes for the coming year.

However, the physician payment rule revises the electronic prescribing program by adding two hardship exemptions to recognize potential conflicts between that program and the Meaningful Use incentive program. Now, eligible professionals or group practices will not be subject to a payment adjustment under the electronic prescribing program if they achieve Meaningful Use during certain reporting periods, or demonstrate intent to participate in the EHR incentive program and adoption of certified EHRs.

The deadline for applying for one of these hardship exemptions for the coming year will be Jan 31, 2013.

The rule also extends the deadline for requesting an "informal review" for issues related to the 2012 and 2013 e-prescribing penalty adjustment to Feb. 28, 2013.

The hospital payment rule extends the electronic reporting pilot for the EHR incentive program, first created in 2012, through 2013. The final rule implementing Stage 2 of the Meaningful Use program, published Sept. 4, had finalized that the program would require electronic reporting of clinical quality measures beginning in 2014 for eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals beyond their first year of reporting in the incentive program. Participation in the pilot program for 2013 is voluntary. CMS clarified that the pilot program does not provide CMS with direct access into hospitals' EHR systems for data abstraction.

CMS will accept comments on both rules through Dec. 31, 2012.

To learn more:
- here's the hospital OPPS rule
- read the announcement
- here's the physician's payment rule
- read the announcement