On February 17, Congress approved a measure to avert a 27 percent reduction in Medicare payments that was set to occur at the end of the month as part of their Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). The bill delays the impending cut in Medicare pay rates for the rest of the year.
The House of Representative voted 293-132 to pass the bill, and the Senate passed it by a 60-36 vote on the same day. The compromise made it necessary for legislators to find other areas to cut in the federal budget, since the Medicare payment cut amounts to $18 billion. One of the ways it will be made up for with cuts is certain provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including taking $5 billion from a $15 billion fund designed to pay for programs to prevent chronic disease over the next 10 years.
The bill also cuts over $4 billion in Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments, which compensate teaching hospitals for treating some of the sickest patients in the medical system.
All of the protests against the ICD-10 implementation deadline appears to be paying off.
Acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner just told reporters, after speaking at the American Medical Association Advocacy Conference in Washington, that the CMS will “re-examine the time frame” for implementing ICD-10 through a rule-making process. Tavenner did not say when the process will start, but that it would be made public when it does.
“There’s concern that folks cannot get their work done around meaningful use, their work around ICD-10 implementation and be ready for exchanges,” Tavenner said. “So we’re trying to listen to that and be responsive.”
There is cautious optimism in the leaders in the healthcare IT community.
- Getting your incentive money from the government is a means to accomplish your goal of utilizing an electronic health record system, not the other way around
- Utilizing an EHR is a reward in itself as it improves your practice efficiency, increases your revenue, and improves the quality of healthcare
- When choosing an EHR
- Find a system that fits the individual needs of your practice
- Choose a system that can be easily modified, even after you have gone live on the system
- Choose a EHR vendor who has assets and will be around for a long time
- Utilize as many of the features of your EHR as you can. Not only will this go farther to help you demonstrate meaningful use, it will also improve the way your office functions
- Learn how to get you a return on your investment, and utilize outside resources if necessary
- Use your system and cash your checks