New bill shortens 2016 MU reporting period to 90 days

Providers attesting to Meaningful Use for 2016 would have a reporting period of 90 days--down from a full year--under a new bill unveiled Wednesday by a group of bipartisan lawmakers. 

The bill is similar to a rule released last fall by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that shortened the 2015 Meaningful Use reporting period to 90 days, as well. That rule, however, left the 2016 reporting period at 365 days.

Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Reps. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), Tom Price (R-Ga.), Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) proposed the new legislation. 

College of Healthcare Information Management Executives President and CEO Russell Branzell released a statement lauding the bill, calling it a "sensible approach" to updating Meaningful Use. A coalition of 34 provider organizations, including CHIME, last month asked CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt to shorten this year's reporting period. 

"There's growing acknowledgement across the industry that a 90-day reporting period for Meaningful Use, rather than the current 365-day construct, is a more reasoned approach to public policy," Branzell said in his statement. He added that with program changes looming due to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015, a 90-day reporting period would enable providers to "adjust to the new regulatory environment."

The Federation of American Hospitals, which also signed the March letter to Slavitt, praised the bill, as well, saying in a letter to Bennet that a shorter reporting period would help providers to reduce workflow interruptions.

"As a nurse, I continue to recognize the problems physicians, hospitals and healthcare providers face when working to meet CMS' stringent Meaningful Use requirements," Ellmers said in a statement. "While provider participation in this program is important, it's clear that our medical community is eager for relief but that CMS is in no hurry to provide it. Today's bipartisan and bicameral legislation is critical to the ongoing conversation about how to best serve patients and supply relief to the provider community."

To learn more:
- here's the new bill (.pdf)
- read the accompanying statement
- check out Branzell's statement
- here's the FAH letter (.pdf)