The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced its intent to engage in rulemaking to update the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs (commonly referred to as the Meaningful Use Program) beginning in 2015. CMS expects to publish a new rule this spring to respond to provider concerns about software implementation, information exchange readiness, and the 2015 reporting requirements. CMS is considering proposals to:

  1. Realign hospital EHR reporting periods to the calendar year to allow eligible hospitals more time to incorporate 2014 Edition software to their workflows, and to better align with other CMS quality programs;
  2. Modify aspects of the Meaningful Use Program to match long-term goals of the program, reduce complexity, and lessen providers’ reporting burdens; and
  3. Shorten the EHR reporting period in 2015 to 90 days to accommodate these changes. The new rule should allow providers additional time to continue their EHR transitions.

The new rule would reflect recent developments in the industry, and progress toward program goals achieved since the Meaningful Use Program began in 2011. For the past several years, CMS has incentivized hospitals and eligible providers to adopt and make “meaningful use” of EHR technology through the Meaningful Use Program. Over $17.2 billion in Medicare incentive payments and $8.7 billion in Medicaid incentive payments have been made to hospitals and eligible professionals through these programs. 

This new rule is distinct from the forthcoming Stage 3 proposed rule, which is expected to be released in March of this year. CMS intends to limit the scope of the Stage 3 proposed rule to the requirements and criteria for meaningful use in 2017 and subsequent years.