The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Omnibus Final Rule, published in the January 25, 2013 Federal Register, forced covered entities and business associate to update most business associate agreements last year. However, the regulations set an alternate deadline for agreements that were entered into before January 25, 2013 and have not been renewed or modified in the intervening months.

These “grandfathered” agreements must be compliant with the Omnibus Final Rule by September 23, 2014.

FINAL MEANINGFUL USE REGULATIONS PUBLISHED 

On September 4, 2014, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) published in the Federal Register a final rule on meaningful use. Significantly, the final rule provides additional flexibility by allowing eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals to use the 2011 Edition Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT), the 2014 Edition CEHRT, or a combination of the two for the 2014 reporting period. Beginning in 2015, however, participants will be required to use the 2014 CEHRT exclusively. An updated meaningful use timeline and a chart with 2011 and 2014 CEHRT Edition options are can be found with the text of the rule. 

Other important provisions of the final rule include:

  • delaying the start of Stage 3 to January 1, 2017 (CY 2017) for eligible professionals, and to October 1, 2016 (FY 2017) for eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals to allow participants more time to meet the Stage 2 requirements and work towards Stage 3; and 
  • a year-long reporting period for Stage 2 instead of the 90-day periods urged by some stakeholders to avoid risking progress to the program or additional delay in creating the desired healthcare infrastructure.