The Center for Medicare Services and Medicaid (CMS) published a proposed rule yesterday (May 21, 2014) that will provide additional time to hospitals and “eligible professionals” participating in the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program to comply with certain updated program requirements.  The updated requirements are contained in the 2014 edition of CMS’ certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT) rule (the 2014 CEHRT rule). Specifically, the proposed rule, which be read here (.pdf), will allow participating hospitals and eligible professionals, that could not fully implement the 2014 CEHRT rule for their 2014 reporting year due to the delays in finalization of this rule, to continue to use the 2011 CEHRT rule (the previous edition), or a combination of the 2011 rule and the 2014 rule, for the 2014 reporting year.

The 2014 CEHRT rule was issued as part of the September 2012 “Stage 2 Final Rule” for the EHR Incentive Program and the associated “meaningful use” requirements. The time frame for implementing the new requirements by the 2014 reporting year was widely criticized in the health care industry as being too short. The proposed rule was issued in response to these criticisms. CMS emphasized that the 2014 CEHRT rule must be implemented for the 2015 reporting year.

The EHR Incentive Program, created in 2010 pursuant to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the 2009 “stimulus bill”,  authorizes incentive payments to eligible professionals (EPs), and hospitals to promote the adoption and “meaningful use” of certified EHR technology, and provides for penalties (in the form of downward payment adjustments) for providers that do not meet the meaningful use requirements. Hospitals and eligible professionals must submit attestations in order to receive meaningful use incentive payments. A former hospital executive was recently charged with fraud for, allegedly, falsely attesting that his hospital had met the meaningful use requirements.