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ASA, Other Medical Specialty Groups Laud Electronic Health Records Legislation to Fix Incentive Program

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) joined with 20 other medical and physician specialty groups in a letter commending Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) for the introduction of the Electronic Health Records (EHR) Improvements Act (H.R. 6598) in the 112th Congress. 

The EHR Incentive Program was originally created as part of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  The Act creates a program whereby eligible physicians may receive financial incentive in the form of grants by demonstrating that they are using electronic health record systems in a meaningful way.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is in the process of implementing the EHR program in three stages that include the financial incentives for meeting a “meaningful use” criteria and financial penalties for not meeting the criteria.  

ASA has identified parts of the law and resulting regulations which, if not corrected, could expose anesthesiologists to the financial penalties. ASA has worked with regulators and, more recently, Members of Congress to advance revisions to the program.      

The Black legislation, if enacted into law, would ease anesthesiologists participation in the EHR Incentive Program by exempting anesthesiologists from some of the criteria required to demonstrate meaningful use. 

These include:

•exempting anesthesiologists from providing clinical summaries to patients

•exempting anesthesiologists from being required to provide patients with an electronic copy of their health information

•exempting anesthesiologists and other eligible professionals from implementing drug to drug and drug to allergy interaction checks

The exemptions for anesthesiologists in this legislation, if enacted, would be an important step forward toward improving the EHR Incentive Program.

ASA continues to work closely with key Members of Congress and EHR regulators to advance legislative and regulatory measures to address issues with the EHR Incentive Program. 

In August of 2012, CMS released the final rule for Stage 2 of the EHR Incentive Program. As a direct result of ASA's advocacy efforts, the final rule created a temporary automatic hardship exemption from the penalties for anesthesiologists.

Review the letter.
Review the Washington Alert regarding the hearing and bill.
Read ASA’s FAQ on EHR.

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