AHA Leaders Told Help Is Coming for EHRs, Doc Fix Payments

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media , April 27, 2010

Van Hollen said definitions in the healthcare reform legislation will have to be revisited such as what are "hospital readmissions" for which Medicare will cease to pay. "The key is to figure out a smart way to distinguish between necessary and unnecessary readmissions. This is an area where we're probably going to have to work with you to refine the statute as we move forward," he said.

While the House voted on a temporary fix this month (through May 31) to stop the physician payment sustainable growth rate cut, a long-term fix is needed, Van Hollen said. "This is no way to be conducting a health payment system," he said. If a permanent fix cannot be obtain (which was in the House bill passed last year), "at the very least we hope to enact a five-year fix, which would certainly be better than the month-to-month and year-to-year approach."

The doc fix extension package did have some good news for hospitals, Burgess added. It included changes proposed in some of the provisions in the CMS EHR letter, such as including definitions of hospital-based physicians. Previously under the rule, physicians practicing in outpatient centers and clinics were excluded from being eligible for the EHR incentive payments.

Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at jsimmons@healthleadersmedia.com.

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