Senators Introduce Meaningful Use Reform Bill

August 30, 2016

Bill S.3173, or The Electronic Health Regulatory Relief Act, is intended to reduce the burden of the Medicare “Meaningful Use” (MU) payment adjustments. It is safe to assert that many providers have been struggling to find success in the MU program. The MU program has often been criticized for putting an undue reporting burden on physicians and hospitals, particularly those in small or rural markets. 


The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) replaced EHR MU program beginning with the 2017 reporting year and 2019 payment year. However, eligible providers are still subject to EHR MU reporting requirements in 2016 for the 2018 payment year. 


Even though this will be the final year of the EHR MU program, these Senators are trying to make this last year easier on providers. The bill sets forth three main proposals to reform meaningful use reporting:

  • The bill removes the all-or-nothing approach of meaningful use, and instead implements a threshold where eligible entities would be required to meet a threshold of 70 (or somewhere between 50-70) percent to receive reimbursement, and not face a penalty.
  • Changes the meaningful use 2016 reporting period from 365 days to an abbreviated reporting period of 90 consecutive days. The proposal also changes the EHR reporting period under MIPS from 356 days to 90 consecutive days. 
  • Provides more flexibility in hardship exceptions which primarily face small-scale providers including: insufficient internet connectivity, inability to finance an EHR system and lack of face-to-face patient interaction.


Currently, rural and small-market providers face a high degree difficulty in meeting the meaningful use reporting requirements. Meeting the MU requirements often necessitates a sizable amount of capital to purchase EHR technology and a significant amount of time to input all the data. 


Although the authors use rural examples to justify the proposed legislative changes, the bill is not exclusive to rural and small-market providers. The Senators sponsoring the bill are: Senator Thune (R-S.D.), Senator Alexander (R-Tenn.), Senator Enzi (R-Wyo.), Senator Roberts (R-Kan.), Senator Burr (R-N.C.), and Senator Cassidy (R-La.). At this point, it is unlikely the bill will be considered by the Senate Finance Committee, where it is currently pending further action.



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