The Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements recently proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) as part of the Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs to expand the use of Electronic Health Record (“EHRs”) maintain the same core and menu structure as the Stage 1 criteria. The proposed rule, however, gives providers an additional year, until 2014, to implement Stage 2 criteria.

In the proposed rule announced in late February, CMS recommends that Eligible Professionals (“EPs”) must meet or qualify for an exclusion to 17 core objectives and 3 of 5 menu objectives, while Eligible Hospitals (“EHs”) and Critical Access Hospitals (“CAHs”) must meet or qualify for an exclusion to 16 core objectives and 2 of 4 menu objectives.  Some of the Stage 1 core and menu objectives were eliminated or combined with others, but mostly all of the Stage 1 core and menu objectives have been retained for Stage 2.

As in Stage 1, the new rule proposes that in order to qualify for incentive payments under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR program, EPs, EHs and CAHs must report on specified clinical quality measures (CQMs).  CMS would like public comment on proposed methods of electronic CQM reporting, namely aggregate-level electronic reporting as a group, or through existing quality reporting systems like those used by Medicare providers.

The HITECH Act, enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, requires Medicare payment adjustments to begin in 2015 but does not specify the reporting period to avoid such penalties.  The proposed rule states that in order to avoid Medicare penalties, EPs and EHs must demonstrate meaningful use by the end of the reporting period for incentive payments for Fiscal Year 2013.  The rule also proposes exceptions to the Medicare adjustments.

A 60-day comment period has been established for the proposed rule. Comments can be submitted electronically here.