On May 22, 2013, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the United States Health & Human Services Department, announced that over 50 percent of doctors and over 80 percent of hospitals are making a “meaningful use” of electronic health records (EHRs) and have received incentives for such use. By comparison, in 2008, just nine percent had adopted EHRs. Secretary Sebelius credits the “dramatic increase” in adoption of EHRs to the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) that was passed as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The HITECH Act awards incentives to eligible professionals (physicians) and hospitals who make a “meaningful use” of EHR technology that has been certified by the HHS Office of National Coordinator of Health Information Technology (ONC). The HHS press release with further information is available here.
On Friday, May 3, 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of National Coordinator of Health Information Technology (ONC) jointly hosted a listen and learn webcast about the impact of EHRs on coding and billing. Look for HITECHMcClure on Twitter for comments from the panelists. Materials used during the session can be accessed here. CMS plans to post an audio recording of the session on its Educational Resources webpage at a later date.
On April 25, 2013, the Officer of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced that it had revoked certification for two electronic health record (EHR) products that the ONC had previously certified for use as part of the incentive program implemented pursuant to the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (HITECH Act). The products for which ONC revoked certification are EHRMagic-Ambulatory and EHRMagic-Inpatient. The ONC’s press release with additional information is available here.
Whether the providers who purchased these products in reliance on the previous ONC certification will be able to recoup their investment in these products may depend on the terms of any vendor agreement signed between the parties. For providers who are purchasing ONC-certified products, this development highlights the importance of examining the provider’s EHR vendor agreement to ensure that it contains adequate warranty and indemnification provisions that will protect the provider in case the vendor’s product is de-certified by the ONC. Importantly, without “certified EHR technology”, the provider will not qualify for the HITECH Act’s meaningful use incentive payments.
Kentucky Health Information Exchange (KHIE) sends out alert on Thursday, April 18, 2013, indicating that it will accept applications from 13 providers who are seeking financial assistance to qualify for the HITECH Act’s Meaningful Use incentive payments.
By Ann F. Triebsch and Kathie McDonald-McClure
Barely two weeks after Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash) sent a letter to the HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) requesting that the Anti-Kickback Statute’s “safe harbor” allowing hospitals to donate electronic health record (EHR) items and services to physicians be extended, the OIG has proposed a rule to do exactly that. On April 10, 2013, the OIG proposed a rule to extend the Anti-Kickback Statute safe harbor from December 31, 2013, to December 31, 2016. On the same date, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a complementary rule to extend the Stark Law’s similar EHR exception to December 31, 2016.