Flex-IT Act reintroduced—would shorten 2015 MU reporting period

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 - Capitol Hill, Congress

Rep. Renee Elmers (R-N.C.) has reintroduced the Flex-IT Act, which would, if quickly enacted, give providers a three-month Meaningful Use reporting period in 2015.

“There is a tremendous need for our healthcare providers to have flexibility in meeting HHS’ stiff deadlines, and this is precisely why I am reintroducing the Flex-IT Act,” said Ellmers in a statement. “The time constraints imposed on doctors and hospitals are inflexible and simply unmanageable—and this is evident by the dreadful Stage 2 Meaningful Use attestation numbers released by CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) late last year. It’s hard to comprehend how HHS can move forward to full-year reporting when the numbers for 90-day reporting are so low—particularly when noting that half of the physicians in our country are now facing costly fines.”

The bill was co-sponsored by two Republicans, Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and two Democrats, David Scott (D-Ga.) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.).

Ellmers introduced similar legislation last September as a response to the final rule issued in August by CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator of health IT requiring a full-year reporting period. The bill failed to get anywhere before the last Congress ended its session

Re-introduction of the legislation was applauded by a number of healthcare organizations, including the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Hospital Association, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society; and the American Medical Association.

“While CHIME remains committed to the success of Meaningful Use, and to making sure improved patient care is the program’s lasting legacy, we believe significant changes are needed to address increased dissatisfaction with EHRs and growing disenchantment with the program,” said CHIME President and CEO Russell Branzell in a statement. “This bill, if passed, would begin that much-needed course correction.”