CMS announces new rulemaking that may lead to reduced MU requirements

In a recent post by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a new rule was announced that may ultimately lead to eased meaningful use requirements this year. The announcement of the new rulemaking was posted by Deputy Administrator for Innovation & Quality and Chief Medical Officer Patrick Conway, M.D., who explained that the new regulation is in the works and will likely be published by this spring.

New rulemaking likely to lead to positive changes
This regulation for 2015 is entirely separate from the approaching rule for stage 3 meaningful use, despite their similar goals revolving around taking the weight off the shoulders of providers. The agency is hoping that the rule will be an effective response to the numerous provider concerns regarding the implementation of health care technology and related concerns.  

One of the many changes that the rule will likely make is switching the current full-year reporting period to a 90-day one. This would be an important alteration, as many providers have struggled with a year-long reporting period.

Changes may also include the alignment of the meaningful use reporting periods for eligible hospitals and providers while ensuring that each adheres to the calendar year. The post also mentioned that there would likely be additional aspects of the program altered to meet long-term goals and alleviate the challenges that health care professionals have been facing.

CHIME praises CMS for shortened reporting period
Many organizations have been pushing for a shortened reporting period and are relieved to hear the news. One such organization is the College of Health Information Management Executives, which has been aggressive about voicing its concerns.

"It truly is an answer for what we have been asking for quite some time, actually all the way back to late 2013 and early 2014," CHIME president and CEO, Russell P. Branzell, said in a statement. "We're quite pleased and thankful for CMS and ONC that they are listening."

According to Branzell, the reactions to the rulemaking will be positive and supportive of the changes, making for a smooth and effective process. He believes that there are no providers, hospitals or organizations within the health care industry that will see the rulemaking process as anything other than a step in the right direction. He also sees the CMS's decision to ease the 2015 meaningful use requirements as a good sign that stage 3 meaningful use will be effective and less burdensome compared to MU requirements in past stages.  

"There is a hard look at MU3 to make it appropriate for the industry and I have heard nothing but that from them all along – that MU3 would be a positive reflection of the industry and what we need to do to be successful," said Branzell. "But we still need to wait and see the hardcore facts of what MU3 brings from a data perspective."

If anything, providers can rest assured that the rulemaking is a clear sign that the CMS is fully aware of the challenges they have been facing from stage 1 and 2 meaningful use requirements and the EHR Incentive Programs overall.