Congresswoman Renee Ellmers introduced the HR 5481 bill in mid-September known as the Flexibility in Health IT Reporting Act of 2014, or the Flex-IT Act. As part of the EHR incentive program, providers are required to demonstrate meaningful use for a certain reporting period. If this bill passes, that reporting period would be significantly shortened from one year to 90 days.

Many professionals are behind the HR 5481 bill, insisting that a shorter reporting period is a necessity, as there are still a large number of hospitals and physicians who have yet to attest to Meaningful Use Stage 2. A group of 17 medical organizations, including the American Academy of Family Physcians (AAFP), the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Hospital Association (AHA), and others, sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on September 15th requesting the 90-day reporting period.

According to the letter, less than 4% of hospitals and only 1.3% of eligible professionals have met Stage 2 requirements so far. The remaining hospitals have until October 1st, 2014 and the remaining EPs have until January 1st, 2015. The organizations urged that shortening the reporting period “would give time for providers to continue their transition without having to drop out of the program.” If this change is allowed, providers have a better chance of meeting the necessary requirements to attest to MU2.

Ellmers’ released a statement saying that the requirements asked of providers are “threatening their ability to provide excellent, focused care.” She feels that, because of the HHS mandates, providers are focusing “more on avoiding financial penalties and less on their patients.” The Flex-IT Act will allow a little more flexibility for providers, enabling them to select any three consecutive months for reporting in 2015. At the same time, it’ll maintain the goal of implementing and utilizing health IT to improve patient care and practice efficiency.

Author: Apoorva Anupindi

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