A recent bill introduced to the House of Representatives by Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) would aim to reduce the “regulatory burden” of The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, by creating a meaningful use “hardship exemption” for small practices and physicians near retirement. The bill is being called the EHR Improvements Act of 2013.
Rep. Black says the exemption would allow practices who don’t have the resources to implement an EHR and/or physicians who are eligible for Social Security in 2015 to be exempt from HITECH regulations. The older physicians, Rep. Black says, are not as inclined to make a long term investment in the practice, since they are closer to retirement age.
The legislation includes other provisions meant to lighten the Meaningful Use regulations, including a shortening of the EHR reporting period for application of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) EHR Payment, from two years to no more than one year. According to Black, the two year look back period…“forces physicians to rush this important decision; potentially with a system that doesn’t meet their needs,” or “accept a damaging penalty for not making the investment.”
The bill also sponsors specialty-led registries that are aimed to improve quality reporting metrics, which Black says often have nothing to do with certain specialties, or even measure quality of care. She says the metrics in her legislation are “designed by and for physicians,” and offer real-time data logs. She says they offer physicians autonomy to design their own quality measures.
Rep. Black actually tried to introduce similar legislation last year and has worked with numerous physician-driven advocacy organizations such as the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association to get these improvements enacted.