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CMS Proposes Rule to Align Timelines in EHR Incentive and IQR Programs

May 15, 2014
by Gabriel Perna
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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed a rule this week that would align the reporting of clinical quality measures (CQMs) for eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) under the Medicare EHR Incentive Program with timelines in the Hospital IQR Program.

Currently, the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) Program, which rewards hospitals that report designated quality measures a higher annual update to their payment rates, and the EHR Incentive Program have different reporting and submission periods for CQMs. Hospitals report data to the Hospital IQR Program based on calendar year deadlines while the EHR Incentive Program is based on fiscal year deadlines. Furthermore, the Hospital IQR Program requires quarterly reporting and submission of data for chart-abstracted measures while the EHR Incentive Program requires annual submission of clinical process of care measure data.

The proposal from the CMS would align reporting and submission periods for CQMs for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program and the Hospital IQR Program on a calendar year basis, starting with the 2015 calendar year. The proposal, which can be read fully in the federal register, would have an incremental shift of the Medicare EHR Incentive Program reporting and submission periods. In 2015 and 2016, they would require calendar year reporting, but for the first three calendar quarters.

“This proposal will allow us to align data reporting and submission periods without shifting the EHR incentive payments,” CMS says in the proposed rule. They also note that hospitals demonstrating meaningful use for the first time in 2015 or 2016 would still be required to report CQMs by attestation for a continuous 90-day period in FY 2015 or 2016.

The goal of this would be to: "avoid possible confusion, reduce provider burden, and strengthen our commitment to aligning programs," CMS wrote in the rule.

As part of the proposed rule, CMS also updated policies on the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program, the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, and the Hospital-Acquired Condition (HAC) Reduction Program. They also updated policies around long-term care hospitals (LTCH), and indicated they wanted to better understand the current state of EHR adoption and use of health information exchange (HIE) in the LTCH community.

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