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D.C. Report: MU and 5010 Resources, Attestation Begins, HIT Role in ACOs, Medical Technology Caucus

April 4, 2011
by Sharon Canner, Sr. Director of Advocacy
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CMS Resources for MU and 5010. To assist providers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) continues to produce webinars and various other tools. Registration for eligible hospitals (EHs) for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs is the subject of an April 6 webinar that will cover (1) eligibility for incentives; (2) dually eligible hospitals; (3) pre-registration and (4) the registration process. In order to receive the call-in information, participants must register. Registration will close at 1:30pm EST on the day before the call or when available space has been filled.

Version 5010 transaction set change occurs on January 1, 2012. To assist with compliance, CMS, in cooperation with a broad group of health care industry stakeholders representing providers, payers, government and vendors is sponsoring Get Ready for 5010. A series of webinars on testing is scheduled for April 4-8. Featured speakers from CMS and provider and payer organizations will focus on testing for large and small practices and facilities; and how to test with Medicare fee-for-service testing with commercial payers and clearinghouses. For webinar and registration details, click here.

Attestation Begins. Beginning April 18, providers may attest for meaningful use under Medicare. Attestation is not required on that date, but rather available to those who feel prepared to begin applying for incentive funds under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. Providers may also register (registration began January 3, 2011) and attest on the same day if they wish. Hospitals may skip attesting to meaningful use in FY2011 and still derive maximum benefit from the program. Hospitals choosing to attest in FY2011 must report on a 90-day reporting period during the fiscal year, which ends September 30, 2011. The announcement this week includes screen shots with attestation examples to assist providers in entering data into the CMS website. Expect additional information soon from CMS that will include User Guides with step-by-step instructions for completing attestation and educational webinars that describe the attestation process in depth. For the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program, providers will follow a similar process using their state's Attestation System.

Strong Role for HIT in ACO Rule. The 429-page CMS rule released yesterday references health IT as an important component of an accountable care organization including the “establishment and use of health information technology, including electronic health records”.... infrastructure, such as information technology that enables the ACO to collect and evaluate data and provide feedback to the ACO providers/suppliers across the entire organization.” Other elements that will involve HIT are processes for communicating clinical knowledge to patients, providing treatment and appointment reminders to patients; and collecting, evaluating information on healthcare processes and outcomes to measure progress over time for patients and communities.

Established under The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA), the accountable care program will measure quality and total cost of care for assigned beneficiaries, beginning in calendar year 2012. ACOs, which are voluntary, would share in savings with the Medicare program if they are able to satisfy quality and cost objectives. CMS estimates that ACOs could save the Medicare program as much as $960 million over a three-year period.

Along with the CMS rule, the HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the Department of Justice (DOJ) in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released proposed policy statements regarding the legal issues around establishment of ACOs. Comments on the ACO Rule are due June 6, while DOJ/FTC comment period closes May 31. CHIME is analyzing the CMS Rule and will file public comments.