Final IPPS rule tweaks Meaningful Use program

As promised, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' final rule updating the hospital inpatient prospective payment system (IPPS) for fiscal year 2015 makes several changes to the Meaningful Use electronic health record incentive program, but not as much as the proposed IPPS rule, issued earlier this spring.

The final IPPS rule, to be published in the Federal Register Aug. 22, aligns the reporting and submission timelines of the incentive program with those of the hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQP) program on the calendar year for clinical quality measures (CQMs) that are reported electronically, as proposed. However, CMS opted not to finalize its proposal to require quarterly submission of CQM data, allowing hospitals to voluntarily submit one calendar year (CY) quarter of data for quarters 1, 2 or 3 of 2015 by Nov. 30, 2015, in order to partially fulfill requirements for both programs for CY 2015.

The rule clarifies the payment adjustments for eligible hospitals that have not attained Meaningful Use, with a one-fourth reduction of the applicable percent increase in the first year. 

The rule also allows eligible hospitals beyond their first year of Meaningful Use to continue to report electronic CQMs through attestation, clarifies certain policies, such as the policy for reporting zero denominations in CQMs, and reports that the final rule on the voluntary 2015 certification criteria is expected this summer.

In addition, CMS took the opportunity to repeat its desire for providers not part of the Meaningful Use program to adopt EHRs.

"We believe that the use of certified EHRs by LTCHs [and other types of providers that are ineligible for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs] can effectively and efficiently help providers improve internal care delivery practices, support the exchange of important information across care partners and during transitions of care, and could enable the reporting of electronically specified clinical quality measures," the rule says.

Interoperability is a primary focus of the later stages of the Meaningful Use program. Without data sharing throughout a continuum of care, eligible professionals and hospitals may have difficulty meeting the Meaningful Use requirements.

To learn more:
- here's the rule (.pdf)