The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced yesterday that it will explore possible changes to the Medicare Electronic Health Record Incentive Program in rulemaking this spring. Significantly, CMS indicated that it intends to consider shortening the 2015 reporting period to 90 days which would allow providers to meet the meaningful use requirements and avoid financial penalties with software in place for less time than is currently required (one year).

In addition, CMS intends to consider realigning hospital report periods to the calendar year in order to allow eligible hospitals more time to incorporate 2014 Edition software into their workflows and to better align with other quality programs.

Finally, CMS said it intends to modify other aspects of the programs to match long-term goals, reduce complexity, and lessen providers' reporting burden.

CMS clarified that, even though it intends to pursue these changes through rulemaking, the changes will not be included in the pending Stage 3 proposed rule. The Stage 3 proposed rule, which is expected by March of this year, will be limited to Stage 3 and meaningful use in 2017 and beyond.