CMS signals support of 90-day reporting period in 2015

 - Patrick Conway, MD

In a blog post today from CMS chief medical officer Patrick Conway, MD, the agency signaled its interest in shortening the 2015 reporting period for the federal Meaningful Use programs to 90 days in 2015.

The change is intended to give providers more time to fully deploy 2014 Edition software and is being considered for inclusion in rulemaking that will be issued this spring, according to the post. Conway specified that the rule revising stage 2 of the program would be distinct from the impending rulemaking for stage 3.

Other changes expected to be included in the revision rulemaking are:

• realignment of hospital reporting periods to the calendar year to allow eligible hospitals more time to incorporate 2014 Edition software in their workflows and to align with other quality programs and

• modification of other aspects of the programs to match long-term goals, reduce complexity and lessen reporting burden.

“The new rule, expected this spring, would be intended to be responsive to provider concerns about software implementation, information exchange readiness, and other related concerns in 2015,” Conway wrote. “It would also be intended to propose changes reflective of developments in the industry and progress toward program goals achieved since the program began in 2011.”

All of this will be music to the ears of eligible hospitals (EHs)  and eligible providers (EPs) who have been vocal in their criticism of the pace and timing of the program. Early reports indicating low participation in stage 2 by EHs and EPs, however, have been somewhat mitigated by year-end participation numbers from the HIT Policy Committee.

According to report from Healthcare Informatics on the policy committee’s January 13, 2015, meeting, 77% of EHs eligible for MU stage 2 have already attested, most after their 2014 fiscal years closed. Just 56% of EHs were eligible for stage 2 attestation; eligibility is contingent on two years of participation in stage 1.

EPs have until February to attest, and the data released by the committee suggests that stage 2 attestation was the dominant form in 2014 for all EPs that particip[ated in the program. The committee reported that 42% of all EPs are eligible for stage 2 attestation and of the 13% of all EPs that attested in 2014, 60% attested to MU 2.

Another key data point coming out of that meeting: 200 hospitals and 240,000 providers are expected to receive payment adjustments when penalties begin to be levied in 2016.