Legislators urge shortening the 2016 meaningful use reporting period in an AOA-supported move that would provide doctors with greater flexibility in meeting strict health IT requirements.
Jointly introduced last month by six U.S. House members and two U.S. senators, H.R. 5001/S. 2822, the Flexibility in Electronic Health Record Reporting Act, would allow the use of a 90-day reporting period for the 2016 EHR Incentive Programs, as opposed to the one-year period currently required by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
"The continued procrastination by CMS to provide relief from the tough and inflexible deadlines within the meaningful use program has prompted myself and Sen. (Rob) Portman (R-Ohio) to rally our colleagues and take action," said bill sponsor, Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-North Carolina), in a news release.
"While provider participation in this program is important, as it allows for more seamless care of patients, it's clear that our medical community is eager for relief but that CMS is in no hurry to provide it."
Advocating for meaningful use changes
AOA has long advocated for reasonable changes in the meaningful use program that would allow doctors of optometry to use EHRs in practical ways that benefit their patients, and as recently as June 2015, submitted letters to CMS on suggested improvements. Those letters stressed the importance of 90-day reporting periods through 2017-2018 as proposals to eliminate the timeline seemed out of step with previous CMS adjustments.
Although CMS' final rule—announced in October—granted doctors the option to choose any 90-day reporting period in 2015, the rule's delayed release meant doctors had no time to prepare to meet requirements at year's end because the revised requirements weren't provided until fewer than 90 days remained in 2015. As a result, AOA advised members to apply for a hardship exception for "extreme and uncontrollable circumstances" to avoid a 3% penalty on all Medicare medical eye care claims in 2017.
The AOA fully supports legislation that would take the burden off of doctors participating in the EHR Incentive Programs, and will work to ensure this legislation passes.
Virtual AOA on Capitol Hill, May 23-25, is open to all advocacy-minded doctors, optometry students and paraoptometrics. Learn the issues and get involved at optometry’s premier advocacy event.
As AOA advocates in new federal relief legislation and recognition of optometry’s ability to support the U.S. COVID-19 vaccine campaign, Ohio calls on volunteer doctors of optometry to assist.
Despite its name, the National Association of Optometrists and Opticians is a “front” for large optical retailers, working against the interests of doctors of optometry and comprehensive eye health care for patients, the AOA contends in a Jan. 5 letter sent to the Internal Revenue Service. Some companies are now taking steps to disassociate from the lobbying group and its recent actions.