Draft federal legislation to amend the Medicare physician payment formula also calls for nationwide interoperable EHRs by the end of 2017. 

Section 9(c) of the draft bill would declare it a “national objective to achieve widespread exchange of health information through interoperable certified EHR technology nationwide by December 31, 2017.”  Not later than July 2015, the Secretary of Health and Human Services would be required to establish metrics to measure progress toward that goal.  If the goal is not reached by December 2017, the Secretary must report to Congress on the barriers to interoperable EHRs and recommended responses.  The Secretary may recommend actions such as adjusting payments for failure to demonstrate meaningful use of an EHR and decertifying certain EHR products.

Lawmakers released the draft physician payment bill in early February but did not include offsets.  With the current physician payment fix set to expire on March 31, 2014, Congress is under pressure to find those pay-fors and to pass a bill within the next month.

In the meantime, CMS announced recently that it has distributed nearly $21 billion in EHR incentive payments to 340,000 Medicare and Medicaid eligible professionals.

Photo of Paige Jennings Paige Jennings

Paige Jennings is an associate in Covington’s Washington office. She works with the firm’s Federal–State Programs, Health Care, Antitrust, and Litigation practice groups. Ms. Jennings joined the firm after a number of years working on health policy matters in the government and private…

Paige Jennings is an associate in Covington’s Washington office. She works with the firm’s Federal–State Programs, Health Care, Antitrust, and Litigation practice groups. Ms. Jennings joined the firm after a number of years working on health policy matters in the government and private sectors. Prior to earning her law degree and Master of Public Affairs, she worked in the U.S. Senate for over four years, advising Senators John Breaux and Tom Carper on health and social policy matters. Ms. Jennings later handled federal health policy issues at WellPoint, Inc. During law school, she worked with the U.S. Office of Management and Budget during consideration of the Affordable Care Act, and with the Federal Trade Commission for then-Chairman Jon Leibowitz.