Category: Health Information Technology

CMS Extends EHR Attestation Deadline for Eligible Hospitals

This week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) announced that it is extending the deadline for eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (“CAHs”) to attest to meaningful use for the Medicare Electronic Health Record  Incentive Program for the 2014 reporting year from 11:59 PM EST on November 30, 2014 to 11:59 PM EST on December 31, 2014.

This extension will allow more time for applicable hospitals to submit their meaningful use data and receive an incentive payment for the 2014 program year, as well as avoid the 2016 Medicare payment adjustment.

CMS is also extending the deadline for eligible hospitals and CAHs that are electronically submitting clinical quality measures to meet that requirement of meaningful use and the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting program. Hospitals now have until December 31, 2014 to submit their eCQM data via Quality Net.

If you have questions regarding meaningful use attestation deadlines, please contact:

OIG Fiscal Year 2015 Work Plan

On October 31, 2014, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) released the Work Plan for Fiscal Year 2015 (“Work Plan”). The Work Plan confirms OIG will continue to concentrate a great deal of their enforcement efforts on the security and vulnerabilities of protected health information (“PHI”) contained in electronic health records (“EHRs”). The continued focus on data security contained in EHRs aligns with the goals of the OIG Strategic Plan 2014-2018, where OIG identified EHRs as one of its key focus areas until at least 2018.

Given the increased frequency and publication of health information breaches, it is no surprise the OIG for the first time indicated it plans to examine hospitals’ contingency plan policies and procedures to determine if adequate safeguards are in place in the event systems containing PHI are damaged. OIG also indicated it will continue to examine the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (“CMS”) oversight of hospitals’ security controls over networked medical devices, such as dialysis machines, radiology systems and medication dispensing systems. OIG will also continue to conduct audits of eligible hospitals and professionals who received Medicare and Medicaid Meaningful Use Incentive payments to determine whether such payments were proper.

It is worth noting the Work Plan did not include assessing the security and vulnerabilities of portable devices containing PHI as a priority. This may be an indication  OIG has completed its review of the issue.

Click here to read OIG’s Work Plan.

If you have any questions or would like additional information about these topics, please contact:

Health Insurance Exchanges Round Two – Is It Time to Expand Your Charity Care Program Through a Premium Support Initiative?


WEBINAR As we move into the second year of open enrollment through the Health Insurance Exchanges, it is time to revisit the issue of Premium Support Programs, an issue that had a bit of a rollercoaster ride during last year’s open enrollment. Has the dust settled enough that you can safely implement a Support Program? We will look at the applicable regulatory guidance and cover the required elements of a compliant Premium Support Program. Financial executives and general counsel for hospitals and health care systems will want to consider attending this informative program.

Click here to register for this free webinar.

CMS Accepts Meaningful Use Hardship Applications for Medicare Meaningful Use Program Through November 30, 2014


This week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) announced its intent to reopen the submission period for hardship exception applications for eligible professionals and hospitals participating in the Medicare Meaningful Use Program in order to avoid the 2015 Medicare payment adjustments for not demonstrating meaningful use of Certified Electronic Health Record Technology (“CEHRT”).

The new deadline will be November 30, 2014.  Previously, the hardship exception application deadline was April 1, 2014 for eligible hospitals and July 1, 2014 for eligible professionals.  The reopened hardship exception application submission period is for eligible professionals and hospitals that:

  • Have been unable to fully implement 2014 Edition CEHRT due to delays in 2014 Edition CEHRT availability; and
  • Were unable to attest by October 1, 2014 and eligible hospitals that were unable to attest by July 1, 2014 using the flexibility options provided in the CMS 2014 CEHRT Flexibility Rule.

These are the only circumstances that CMS will consider for this reopened hardship exception application submission period.

Click here to read CMS’s full announcement regarding the hardship exception application extension.

If you have questions regarding meaningful use and the hardship exception application process, please contact:

Costly Software License Audits Could Affect IT Partnerships


Hospitals, health systems and other large users of Microsoft, Adobe and similar software are experiencing increased license auditing.  Because of the dynamic nature of the IT environment, most users operate in varying degrees of compliance with their license agreements.  In the event of an audit, the cost of compliance, known or unknown, can be significant and turn traditional partnerships into adversarial relationships.  Users may mistakenly produce records with good intentions that ultimately complicate the ability to efficiently resolve license compliance issues.  When faced with an audit, it is important to understand the role of each party (licensor, auditor, licensee and reseller) and their respective financial interest in resolving any compliance issue. … Continue Reading →

Impacts of Heartbleed Exploit Come to Light

Following recent news about the Heartbleed exploit, CloudFlare, a San Francisco-based security services company, challenged hackers to use Heartbleed to get private encryption keys that would unlock secure data. It reported multiple winners to its challenge. By obtaining the private key for an SSL/TLS certificate, an attacker could set up a fake website that passes the security verification. They could also decrypt traffic passing between a client and a server, known as a man-in-the-middle attack, or possibly unscramble encrypted communications they’ve collected in the past…. Continue Reading →

No Further Delays for ICD-10


Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of CMS, indicated that providers, payers and claims clearinghouses can look for no relief from the looming October 1 compliance deadline for the nationwide conversion to the ICD-10 family of diagnostic and procedural codes. She made this statement in her February 27, 2014 address to the HIMSS convention in Orlando as reported by Modern Healthcare. … Continue Reading →

CMS Extends Meaningful Use Attestation Deadline for Eligible Professionals

CMS announced last week that it is extending the deadline for eligible professionals to attest to meaningful use for the Medicare Electronic Health Record (“EHR”) Incentive Program 2013 reporting year from 11:59 PM ET on February 28, 2014 to 11:59 PM ET March 31, 2014.  This extension will allow more time for eligible professionals to submit their meaningful use data and receive an incentive payment for the 2013 program year as well as avoid the 2015 payment adjustment…. Continue Reading →

Changes to EHR Donation Regulations May Affect Your EHR Donation Arrangement


Executive Summary  

On December 27, 2013, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) and Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) published final rules that amend regulations commonly known as the “EHR Donation Regulations.”  The EHR Donation Regulations consist of an exception to the physician self-referral law (Stark) (42 CFR 411.357(w)) and a safe harbor to the Anti-Kickback Statute (42 CFR 1001.952(y)).  The EHR Donation Regulations allow certain entities to provide non-monetary remuneration to physicians and other health care providers in the form of software and information technology services.  The final rules amend the EHR Donation Regulations by (1) extending the sunset date of the EHR Donation Regulations from December 31, 2013 to December 31, 2021; (2) excluding laboratory companies from the types permissible donors of electronic health record (“EHR”) items and services; (3) updating the provision under which EHR software is deemed interoperable; (4) clarifying the requirement prohibiting any action that limits or restricts the use, compatibility or interoperability of donated items or services; and (5) removing from the EHR Donation Regulations the requirement that the donated items and services have electronic prescribing capability.  Hospitals and other health care providers who currently maintain EHR donation programs should consider how the final rules affect those programs. … Continue Reading →

CMS Announces an Extension of Meaningful Use Stage 2


CMS has indicated that it intends to extend Stage 2 of meaningful use attestation under the Medicare/Medicaid Electronic Health Record (“EHR”) Incentive Program.  In a recent blog post, CMS states that the new or modified Stage 3 requirements for becoming a meaningful user of a certified EHR technology will not be effective until 2017 for those eligible professionals and eligible hospitals that first attested to Stage 1 in 2011 or 2012.   The pronouncement by CMS does not delay Stage 2 but rather simply provides guidance that the earliest date that Stage 3 will be effective is 2017.  For any eligible professional or eligible hospitals first attesting to Stage 1 on or after 2013, the timetable previously announced by CMS remains in place, which will require two years of attestation to each of Stage 1, Stage 2 and Stage 3.  Eligible providers and eligible hospitals should remember that the blog post only signals CMS’s intent and does not change any current meaningful use regulations.

If you have questions regarding certified EHR or meaningful use, please contact Jeff Short at 317-977-1413 or, Ammon Fillmore at 317-977-1492 or or your regular Hall Render attorney.