Legislation to ease the attestation burden physicians must meet under Stage 2 of meaningful use has been reintroduced in Congress.

The Flexibility in Health IT Reporting ( H.R. 270 ), introduced by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), would allow physicians to choose any 3-month quarter as their attestation period to qualify for incentive payments under Stage 2. Current law requires they report for a full year. In previous years and under Stage 1, the attestation period was 90 days. This year also marks the first year physicians and hospitals will be subject to a 1% reduction in Medicare payments for not meeting meaningful use requirements.

The legislation was introduced as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reported low participation in Stage 2. At a Jan. 13 meeting of the Health IT Policy Committee, an advisory committee to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, CMS officials reported that 16,455 eligible health care professionals had successfully attested to Stage 2 of meaningful use, while a total of 337,861 had registered for the Medicare meaningful use incentive program.

“The time constraints imposed on doctors and hospitals are inflexible and simply unmanageable – and this is evident by the dreadful Stage 2 meaningful use attestation numbers released by CMS,” Rep. Ellmers said in a statement.

The legislation is supported by several physician and health care organizations including the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, Medical Group Management Association, College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, and Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

“Stage 2 of meaningful use has proven extremely challenging and, absent this reporting flexibility, a significant number of physicians will be unable to participate in the program and unfairly penalized,” Anders Gillberg, senior vice president of government affairs for the Medical Group Management Association, said in a statement.

The bill has been referred to both the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees.

gtwachtman@frontlinemedcom.com

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