Expansion of MU to hospital-based docs requires more work

We've already reported that legislation enacted a month ago will extend eligibility for federal EMR incentive money to physicians who practice in hospital-based outpatient settings. But did you know that the EMR provision is part of a bill called the Continuing Extension Act of 2010? (That's how Congress works. Amendments get tacked on to just about every piece of legislation imaginable).

In a rather dry, legalese-heavy piece published in Lexology, a newsletter for business attorneys, four Foley & Lardner lawyers explain some of the finer points of this important change. "The legislative summary of the Extension Act suggests that the amendment was intended to permit those [eligible professionals] who practice in hospital outpatient settings [apart from emergency rooms] to qualify for Medicare or Medicaid incentive payments. Presumably, CMS' final regulations issued regarding EHR also will reflect this clarification," they write. They note that in the proposed regulations for meaningful use, CMS expressed concern about the original exclusion of such physicians.

According to the lawyers, CMS has proposed defining hospital-based eligible professionals as anyone who provides at least 90 percent of professional services during a calendar year in a "hospital setting," which includes outpatient clinics away from the main hospital campus.

"Hospital-based EPs who practice in outpatient settings, other than emergency rooms, are now eligible for EHR incentive payments provided that they make meaningful use of certified EHR technology. Hospitals desiring to take advantage of this opportunity for additional funding should take steps to ensure that their employed or contracted EPs providing services in outpatient sites assign their rights to receive the incentive payments to their employing or contracting hospitals," they write.

For further information:
- read this analysis in Lexology