On Friday, April 10, 2015, CMS issued a proposed rule containing several important modifications to the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.  Among the most notable proposals is to move eligible hospitals from a fiscal-year reporting period to the calendar-year schedule that eligible professionals currently follow.   In addition, CMS proposes to maintain a 90-day reporting period for the 2015 reporting year, rather than adopting a year-long reporting period.  Comments on the proposed rule are due by 5 p.m. on June 9, 2015. 

Among other proposals, CMS seeks to revise some individual meaningful use measures.  Beginning in the 2015 reporting period, eligible providers would no longer be required to demonstrate that five percent of their patients had electronically viewed, downloaded or transmitted their personal health information using the provider’s certified EHR.  Instead, eligible providers would be required to demonstrate that only one patient had done so.  Eligible providers also would be required to demonstrate that their certified EHR’s direct messaging capabilities had been fully enabled during the reporting period, rather than the current requirement that five percent of patients had sent a message using that functionality.

CMS also proposes to consolidate its public health reporting requirements into a single measure with six different reporting options.  The reporting options themselves are the same as used in prior years—immunization registry reporting, syndromic surveillance reporting, etc.—but now providers will be able to satisfy the public reporting requirements through a combination of the six options (two for eligible providers, three for hospitals), rather than the entire roster.

A final rule is expected in August, in conjunction with CMS’s Stage 3 Meaningful Use final rule and a final EHR certification rule from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.

The proposed rule is available by clicking here.