Providers de­cry im­pos­ing EHR penal­ties in 2015

Modern Healthcare - - LATE NEWS - —Joseph Conn

A CMS an­nounce­ment last week that many doc­tors and hos­pi­tals will see their 2015 Medi­care pay­ments cut by 1% for fail­ing to meet fed­eral elec­tronic health-record in­cen­tive-pay­ment pro­gram stan­dards has pro­voked strong re­ac­tions from physi­cian and hos­pi­tal groups.

“The Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion is ap­palled by the news,” said AMA Pres­i­dent-elect Dr. Steven Stack, who noted that “more than 50% of el­i­gi­ble pro­fes­sion­als will face penal­ties … a num­ber that is even worse than we an­tic­i­pated.”

The cuts will tar­get more than a quar­ter-mil­lion physi­cians and other el­i­gi­ble pro­fes­sion­als and about 200 hos­pi­tals. The penal­ties will ap­ply next year to providers who failed to meet the pro­gram’s Stage 1 mean­ing­ful-use cri­te­ria in 2013.

Let­ters in­form­ing af­fected providers and hos­pi­tals will be mailed in the com­ing weeks, a CMS of­fi­cial said. In­struc­tions on how to ap­peal the CMS’ penalty decision is avail­able on the CMS web­site. Ap­peals must be filed by Feb. 28.

“This is a clear mes­sage to the ad­min­is­tra­tion that they’ve got to make sig­nif­i­cant changes to the pro­gram,” said Robert Ten­nant, se­nior pol­icy ad­viser to the Med­i­cal Group Man­age­ment As­so­ci­a­tion, which has lob­bied for sev­eral years to have the penal­ties ap­plied to re­im­burse­ments at the end of the year in which the provider fails to make mean­ing­ful use, rather than two years later, as the pro­gram does now.

“It’s only fair,” Ten­nant said. “Some­one who strug­gled to meet mean­ing­ful use and did in 2014, why should they get a penalty in 2015?”

The penal­ties start at 1% of Medi­care re­im­burse­ments be­gin­ning in 2015 for non­com­pli­ance in fis­cal 2013 for hos­pi­tals, and cal­en­dar year 2013 for physi­cians, den­tists, op­tometrists, po­di­a­trists and chi­ro­prac­tors.

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