The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as the stimulus package, was signed into law on February 17, 2009. The specific statutory cite is Public Law 111-5. As part of ARRA, incentives were included that were intended to expand the use of electronic health records (EHR) by hospitals, critical access hospitals (CAH), and individual health care professionals (EP).
Division B, Title IV, outlined EHR implementation or upgrade incentives and associated requirements. The financial incentives authorized under Title IV were available at the beginning of the federal fiscal year (FY) 2011 (10/1/2010) for hospitals and CAHs. The financial incentives available to EPs began calendar year (CY) 2011. Also, if a hospital, CAH, or EP does not implement or upgrade to an EHR and meet meaningful use measures by 2015 (FYI for hospitals and CAHs and CY for EPs, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will reduce any Medicare reimbursements paid to these entities or individuals.
The Meaningful Use Rule was drafted and finalized by CMS. It outlines what is considered measures that demonstrate “meaningful use” of the EHR. Also, the rule included related requirements that must be met to qualify for Medicare or Medicaid EHR incentive dollars.
The rule in effect today includes Stage 1 requirements. There will be three stages or levels of measurement that must be met to meet meaningful use. The requirements to demonstrate meaningful use will become more stringent for step 2 (delayed to 2014) and stage 3 (effective date TBA).
The Stage 2 Meaningful Use notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) or draft rule and Vendor Stage 2 EHR Application(s) Requirements NPRM or draft rule was published in the Federal Register the week of March 5, 2012. Publication of the NPRMs is followed by a 60 day public comment period. The public comments will be used to revise the draft rules before finalization. These rules, when final, will impact future meaningful use measure requirements and vendor technical/functional requirements that must be made before federal certification.
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