WASHINGTON DC, August 6, 2015 – Following passage of the Electronic Health Fairness Act of 2015 (S. 1347) in the US Senate yesterday, the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA) today commends Congress for its support of this legislation. Introduced by US Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Michael Bennet (D-CO), the legislation protects physicians who practice in an ASC from potential penalties under the Medicare meaningful use program until a certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT) is available for the ASC setting. Additionally, since certification standards have not been developed for ASCs yet, this legislation would also authorize the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to certify an EHR system for ASCs.
“This bill relieves physicians who practice in the ASC setting from being unfairly penalized for failing to meet meaningful use requirements tied to electronic health records that they are currently prevented from being able to meet,” said William Prentice, chief executive officer of ASCA. “Allowing physicians to perform procedures in ASCs without fear of being penalized encourages them to continue choosing the lower cost, high-quality setting for patient care and saving the Medicare program, patients and insurance providers across the country billions of dollars each year.”
Congress passed the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) in 2009 to incentivize Medicare providers to adopt and use EHR systems. Unfortunately, ASCs were not eligible for HITECH funds to develop EHR systems, and no certified EHR is currently available for ASC encounters.
CMS guidance indicates that patient encounters in the ASC setting should be included to determine whether the 50 percent threshold is met, even though there is no CEHRT option available in the ASC setting. This may dissuade physicians from bringing patients to ASCs—often a lower-cost option—if they are concerned they may have their professional fee cut because they are close to the 50 percent threshold.
Similar legislation passed the US House of Representatives in June. The House and Senate must now concur on final language before President Barack Obama is asked to sign the legislation.
ASCA is a national, nonprofit association that represents the interests of those who own, operate and seek the services of
ASCs throughout the nation. The organization represents more than 2,600 ASCs, the professionals who provide care in such ASCs and
the patients who seek care there. Visit the association online at www.ascassociation.org.