Lawmakers continue to try tweaking the legislation governing the adoption of meaningful use in favor of more electronic health record incentives for providers.
The latest desire for changes to the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act comes from representatives who’ve introduced the Electronic Health Record Incentives for Multi-Campus Hospitals Act of 2010. They want to ensure that hospitals with more than one facility receive payments for each location.
Hospitals that are implementing EHRs and other information technology in several locations have their own costs and needs in each facility, according to Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio), who sponsored the bill. He was joined by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), chair of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, and Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chair Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.). A similar bill was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“This legislation is important for hospitals in my district and across the state of Ohio, who haven’t been getting their fair share of recovery dollars,” Space said in a statement. “This bill will help our hospitals advance their technology, improve the quality of care and better serve their patients.”
Ohio State University Medical Center has argued in favor of incentive payments for each facility in a system. Interim CIO Phyllis Teater, testifying before the Ways and Means subcommittee, said OSU stood to lose $5 million because of the current incentive structure.
The American Hospital Association also has submitted a letter in favor of the multi-campus act.
“Providing these payments to only one hospital in a multi-hospital system would not accurately account for the implementation and training costs of EHRs across different institutions; nor would it accurately reflect differences in clinical services provided at different sites,” wrote Rick Pollack, the association’s executive vice president.
Officials from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the federal agency overseeing the EHR incentive program, have said that the incentive payments, similar to the typical reimbursement process, will be allocated to hospitals according to their CMS certification numbers. They are keeping the policies aligned to sidestep potential legal issues.
Earlier this year, lawmakers changed the HITECH Act wording so that some hospital-based doctors would be eligible for incentive payments, and pending legislation would allow behavioral health practitioners to qualify as well.