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Congressional bill aims to provide EHR incentive payments for ASC doctors

By: Nextech | December 15th, 2015

Congressional bill aims to provide EHR incentive payments for ASC doctors Blog Feature

Depending on a vote by Congress this week, physicians working in ambulatory surgery centers (ASC) could be on track to receive long-awaited incentive money.

H.R. 877, also known as the Electronic Health Fairness Act of 2015, is set to be voted upon on Wednesday. Spearheaded by Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn), the bill is designed to included ASC doctors in the EHR incentive payments that other physicians have been eligible to receive. Co-sponsoring the bill along with Black are nine Republicans and five Democrats. money.3.jpg

When the HITECH Act of 2009 was enacted, certification standards and incentives were created for physicians and practices who adopted EHR technology. However, ambulatory surgery centers were not covered under the provisions of this act, leaving those doctors out of the loop in regard to the $31.7 billion EHR incentive program.

RELATED: Meaningful Use: Members of Congress Support Stage 3 Delay

The bill hopes to correct somewhat of a double standard within the HITECH Act of 2009. According to that measure, 50 percent of patient counters had to take place using certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT). However, CMS guidelines suggested physicians should include patient encounters within the ASC to help determine whether the 50 percent threshold has been met. But since there is no CEHRT for ASC, it can potentially dissuade physicians from bringing patients into the ASC.

In order to resolve this issue, H.R. 877 requests that ASC patient encounters should not be used for Meaningful Use requirements until there's a CEHRT for ASCs.

"Until such time as EHR technology is certified specifically for use in the ambulatory surgical centers, patient encounters that occur in such a center should not be used when calculating whether an eligible professional meets meaningful use requirements, unless an eligible professional elects to include those encounters," the bill states.

A vote is expected Wednesday.

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