Many hospital-based physicians puzzled by their apparent exclusion from EHR meaningful use incentives may find some relief in a provision included the latest Senate jobs bill, "The American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act of 2010 (H.R. 4213)," which passed on Wednesday.
Section 219 in the draft bill amends The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 language. The current law states that hospital-based physicians are excluded from receiving EHR subsidies. However, the Senate bill would change this language so that only hospital-based physicians, who provide services in a hospital inpatient or emergency room setting, are excluded from receiving EHR subsidies.
In other words, the Senate bill as written would make hospital-based physicians, who provide their services primarily at hospital outpatient centers and clinics, eligible for EHR incentives.
The inclusion of the clarifying provision suggests that the Senate may believe CMS is interpreting ARRA's language too stringently. CMS' interpretation, as seen in the proposed EHR meaningful use incentive program, is that all hospital-based physicians are ineligible for incentives. CMS' final rules on the EHR meaningful use incentive program are due out late this spring, according to CMS.
The legislation now moves to House for reconciliation with the House-passed version.