Portman, Bennet, Ellmers, Price, Rush, and Kind Introduce Health IT Legislation

April 20, 2016 | Press Releases

More Flexibility Will Help Medical Professionals Focus on Patients

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Michael Bennet (D-Colorado), along with U.S. Reps. Renee Ellmers, Tom Price, M.D., Bobby Rush, and Ron Kind today introduced the Flexibility in Electronic Health Record (EHR) Reporting Act, which would allow greater flexibility for health care providers in adopting health information technology, so that they can focus on providing patients better care.

“Our hospitals and medical professionals work long, unpredictable hours every day to keep us safe and healthy,” Sen. Portman said.Washington red tape and arbitrary deadlines make their job harder. Our legislation will make it easier to comply with the law, and help them to do their jobs so that patients are provided with the highest quality care.”

“High quality health care providers in Colorado and around the country are focused on offering the care that their patients need, and cumbersome government regulations should not detract from that,” Sen. Bennet said. “This bipartisan bill will help providers adopt new health IT by cutting red tape and ensuring they can focus their resources on delivering care to patients.”

“The continued procrastination by CMS to provide relief from the tough and inflexible deadlines within the Meaningful Use Program has prompted myself and Senator Portman to rally our colleagues and take action,” Rep. Ellmers said. “As a nurse, I continue to recognize the problems physicians, hospitals and healthcare providers face when working to meet CMS’ stringent Meaningful Use requirements.  While provider participation in this program is important, it’s clear that our medical community is eager for relief but that CMS is in no hurry to provide it. Today’s bipartisan and bicameral legislation is critical to the ongoing conversation about how to best serve patients and supply relief to the provider community.”

"This bipartisan, bicameral legislation provides a positive solution to alleviate unnecessary administrative burdens  within our health care delivery system,” said Dr. Price, M.D. “We must work to provide patient-centered health care solutions to ensure patients receive the highest quality care possible. This bill provides much needed relief to ensure that physicians can focus more of their attention on patients, rather than unnecessary, overly burdensome regulatory compliance."

“I along with my colleagues work tirelessly in Washington to make our health care system one that supports hospitals and healthcare providers with the right tools and technology to efficiently give quality care,” said Rep. Rush. “That is why we ask for the implementation of a new system that offer providers a workable time frame to prepare for the transition to the new MACRA requirements.”

“This commonsense bill will give Wisconsin’s health care providers some much-needed flexibility in dealing with HHS’s unrealistic regulations,” Rep. Kind said. “By reducing administrative burdens, our providers can streamline their operations and focus on providing the best treatment.”

The EHR Incentive Payments program was established by the HITECH Act in 2009 to incentivize hospitals and physicians to adopt and demonstrate the “meaningful use” (MU) of EHRs. Hospitals and physicians have spent more than $31 billion to modernize their health IT infrastructure and qualify for incentives. Current regulations require providers to show data from 365 days in order to attest to achieving the program’s objectives. Last year, CMS eased the requirements so that providers only had to submit data for a 90-day period for 2015.

The Flexibility in Electronic Health Record Reporting Act would shorten, in statute, the MU reporting period from one year to 90 days, so that physicians and hospitals in Ohio and across the country can participate in the program with more time and flexibility to work through the technology delays and rigid measures CMS has instituted.

This 90-day policy is supported by the American Academy of Dermatology Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Neurology, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the American College of Cardiology, the American College of Mohs Surgery, the American College of Physicians, the American College of Rheumatology, the American College of Surgeons, the American Gastroenterological Association, the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the American Urological Association, America’s Essential Hospitals, the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems, Cardiology Advocacy Alliance, the Coalition of State Rheumatology Organizations, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, the Federation of American Hospitals, the Heart Rhythm Society, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the Medical Group Management Association, the National Association of Spine Specialists, the National Rural Health Association, the Oncology Nursing Society, Premier, the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, United Surgical Partners International, and others.