CMS rebrands Meaningful Use, reduces reporting measures

The Meaningful Use program is getting a makeover, courtesy of the Trump administration, with reduced reporting measures and a brand-new name. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is also initiating a stronger push for price transparency among hospitals.

As part of its annual Medicare payment update proposal released on Tuesday, CMS plans to rename the Meaningful Use program to "Promoting Interoperability," reflecting the Trump administration's focus on reducing burdens and unnecessary regulations while emphasizing data sharing across providers. 

This recast is accompanied by a major reduction of the number of measures that hospitals will need to report as part of the mandatory program, first initiated as a way to get hospitals to adopt EHRs. The new program has been recast using a scoring methodology that closely resembles the physician Quality Payment Program. 

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Under the proposed rule, hospitals will also be required to adopt 2015 Edition Certified EHRs beginning in 2019, a transition many have resisted. But DirectTrust CEO Davide Kibbe argued it was the right move to bring the industry closer to a truly interoperable system.

"I know that some people wanted HHS and ONC to revamp the certification criteria for EHRs, but given that quite a few vendors have already gone down the road of certification under the 2015 Edition certification criteria, the decision to apply them in 2019 makes a lot of sense," he said in a statement to FierceHealthcare.

Broadly, the agency is proposing to remove 19 measures across the five hospital quality and value-based purchasing programs, as well as de-duplicate another 21. 

In another move of regulation reduction, CMS is advancing its "Patients over Paperwork" initiative, by removing redundant reporting under Part A, and reducing wage documentation requirements for some hospitals, among other provisions.

Lost in the weeds of the new policies was the annual Medicare payment rate increase, which for 2019 is proposed at $4 billion in next year, a bump up from the $2.4 billion increase in 2018.

Price transparency

Additionally, the agency is encouraging hospitals to be more transparent about their pricing by requiring them to post the cost of services online. 

CMS has been pushing for such posting for some time as a way of letting patients know the costs of services before receiving them. Costs for procedures frequently vary from hospital to hospital.

CMS also issued a request for information on what industry identifies as price transparency issues.

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The American Hospital Association praised the proposed payment rule. In a statement, the AHA said overhauled measures will lead to higher quality and more efficient care.

However, the group criticized the transition to 2015 Certified EHRs beginning next year, which some smaller hospitals have struggled to adopt due to costs. The certification allows patients to more easily access their health information, including through the use of mobile apps, another major goal of the administration. 

AHA added that providers spend about $39 billion on administrative costs, including filing out paperwork for programs like Meaningful Use.