The Flexibility in Health IT Reporting Act Would Shorten Stage 2 Reporting Period

Congresswoman Renee Ellmers

Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC-02) released the following statement after introducing H.R.  5481 – The Flexibility in Health IT Reporting (Flex-IT) Act of 2014:

“Healthcare providers have faced enormous obstacles while working to meet numerous federal requirements over the past decade. Obamacare has caused many serious problems throughout this industry, yet there are other requirements hampering the industry’s ability to function while threatening their ability to provide excellent, focused care.

“The meaningful use program has many important provisions that seek to usher our healthcare providers into the digital age. But instead of working with doctors and hospitals, HHS is imposing rigid mandates that will cause unbearable financial burdens on the men and women who provide care to millions of Americans. Dealing with these inflexible mandates is causing doctors, nurses, and their staff to focus more on avoiding financial penalties and less on their patients.

Congressman Jim Matheson
Congressman Jim Matheson

“The Health IT Reporting Act will provide the flexibility providers need while ensuring that the goal of upgrading their technologies is still being managed. I’m excited to introduce this important bill and look forward to it quickly moving on to a vote.”

Congresswoman Renee Ellmers introduced H.R. 5481 – the Flexibility in Health IT Reporting Act of 2014. The legislation would allow healthcare providers to receive the flexibility they need to successfully comply with meaningful use program.

On August 29th, the HHS published a short-sighted final rule, maintaining a provision that requires providers to perform a full-year EHR reporting period in 2015. According to Ellmers, “The Flex-IT Act will allow providers to report their health IT upgrades in 2015 through a 90-day reporting period as opposed to a full year. This shortened reporting period would be an important first step in addressing the many challenges faced by doctors, hospitals and other medical providers due to the inflexible mandates of the meaningful use program.”

To date, only 9 percent of hospitals and 1 percent eligible healthcare professionals have demonstrated the ability to meet meaningful use Stage 2 using the 2014 Edition Certified EHR technology. Only 3,152 of eligible physicians (1.3 percent) have met the Stage 2 bar.

According to Ellmers, “By adjusting the timeline, providers would have the option to choose any three-month quarter for the EHR reporting period in 2015 to qualify for meaningful use. The additional time and flexibility afforded by these modifications will help hundreds of thousands of providers meet Stage 2 requirements in an effective and safe manner. This legislation will reinforce investments made to date and will ensure continued momentum towards the goals of the meaningful use program, including enhanced care coordination and interoperability.”

Responding in support of the proposed legislation, Russell P. Branzell, FCHIME, CHCIO, president and CEO of CHIME issued the following statement:

Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and Congressman Jim Matheson (D-UT) introduced the Flexibility in Health IT Reporting Act granting the nation’s healthcare providers the additional flexibility in meeting meaningful use requirements through a shortened reporting period in 2015.

CHIME commends Congresswoman Ellmers and Congressman Matheson for their immense leadership on this critically important issue following the industry’s joint call to action earlier today. The Flexibility in Health IT Reporting Act would negate the latest final rule and adjust the program reporting timeline; giving providers the option to choose any three-month quarter for EHR reporting in 2015.

The misstep by officials to require a full-year of reporting using 2014 Edition certified EHR Technology (CEHRT) in 2015 puts many eligible hospitals and physicians at risk of not meeting meaningful use next year and hinders the intended impact of the program. To date; only 143 hospitals have met Stage 2 to date, representing a very small percentage of the 3,800 hospitals required to be Stage 2-ready within the next 14 days.

With just two weeks remaining in the fiscal year, Congress’ swift passage of the Flexibility in Health IT Reporting Flex-IT Act would help hundreds of thousands of providers meet Stage 2 requirements in an effective and safe manner, and ensure long-term vitality of the program itself.

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