Eighty-nine House lawmakers sent a bill to Marilyn Tavenner, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), asking her to grant a hardship exemption to pathologists that would delay meaningful use requirements for eligible professionals in that field until at least 2020.
The letter, sponsored by the College of American Pathologists (CAP), details why the lawmakers say pathologists should be given a hardship exemption for the full five-year maximum allowed under the American Recover and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Health Information Technology for Clinical and Economic Health Act (HITECH). The lawmakers note that while meaningful use is aimed to incentivize the use of electronic health record (EHR) systems, pathologists have limited direct contact with EHRs and patients. They instead use laboratory information systems (LISs) to analyze patient specimens and generate test results.
The lawmakers note how CMS itself has noted the difficulties for pathologists to attest to meaningful use. The agency exempted pathologists for 2015, which is the first year there would be penalties. They are asking for a five-year extension of that exemption.
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) were the first signers on the letter and introduced Health Information Technology Reform Act (HR 1309, which would remove pathologists from the class of providers eligible for incentives or penalties altogether.
“The EHR meaningful use program overlooks the unique circumstances of pathology practice. The letter urges CMS to grant all eligible pathologists the significant hardship exception from meaningful use incentives and penalties for the full five years allowed under current law,” Gene N. Herbek, M.D., , President of the CAP, said in a statement.