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    Healthcare Update: CMS Releases Meaningful Use Stage 2 Final Rule; Medicare to Pay Bonuses to Primary Care Physicians; ICD-10 Delayed One Year; States Receive New HHS Grants for Healthcare Exchanges

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    CMS RELEASES MEANINGFUL USE STAGE 2 FINAL RULE
    On August 23, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a final rule outlining the Stage 2 criteria for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs. Eligible professionals (EPs), eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) must meet these requirements to receive EHR incentive payments. CMS issued a fact sheet on the rule.

    Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, doctors, healthcare professionals, and hospitals can qualify for EHR incentive payments when they adopt and demonstrate “meaningful use” of certified EHR technology. EPs can receive up to $44,000 over five years under the Medicare EHR Incentive Program, or up to $63,750 over six years under the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. Eligible hospitals and CAHs will receive a base amount of $2,000,000 plus a “discharge-related amount,” for a combined total of up to $6,370,400. The Stage 1 final rule, released in July 2010, generally focused on capturing and using health information. The Stage 2 criteria are intended to increase the exchange of health information between providers and encourage patient engagement by providing patients with secure access to their own health information.

    Like the Stage 1 rule, the Stage 2 rule requires providers to satisfy and report on a variety of “core objectives” and “menu objectives.” Newly added core objectives include “use secure electronic messaging to communicate with patients on relevant health information” for EPs and “automatically track medications from order to administration using assistive technologies in conjunction with an electronic medication administration record” for eligible hospitals and CAHs. The Stage 2 rule also replaces Stage 1’s “exchange of key clinical information” core objective with a “transitions of care” core objective, and replaces “provide patients with an electronic copy of their health information” with a “view online, download and transmit” core objective. “Menu objectives” now include “outpatient lab reporting” for hospitals and “recording clinical notes” for both EPs and hospitals.

    The Stage 2 final rule delays the timeline for compliance with the Stage 2 criteria to
    July 1, 2014 for eligible hospitals, or October 1, 2014 for EPs (the Stage 1 final rule had required compliance by 2013). In coordination with CMS’s release of the Stage 2 final rule, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released its final rule on the standards EHRs must meet to achieve certification. The final rules will be published in the Federal Register on September 4, 2012.

    Click here for a complete copy of the Update.

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