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Ellmers Introduces the Flex-IT Act

Published Tuesday, September 16, 2014


H.R. 5481 Will Provide Flexibility for Health Care Providers Who Face Burdensome Restrictions and Fines Due to Harsh Health IT Reporting Requirements

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC-02) released the following statement after introducing H.R.  5481 - The Flexibility in Health IT Reporting (Flex-IT) Act of 2014 this afternoon:
“Health Care providers have faced enormous obstacles while working to meet numerous federal requirements over the past decade. Obamacare has caused many serious problems throughout this industry, yet there are other requirements hampering the industry’s ability to function while threatening their ability to provide excellent, focused care.”

“The Meaningful Use Program has many important provisions that seek to usher our health care providers into the digital age. But instead of working with doctors and hospitals, HHS is imposing rigid mandates that will cause unbearable financial burdens on the men and women who provide care to millions of Americans. Dealing with these inflexible mandates is causing doctors, nurses, and their staff to focus more on avoiding financial penalties and less on their patients.”

“The Flex-IT Act will provide the flexibility providers need while ensuring that the goal of upgrading their technologies is still being managed. I’m excited to introduce this important bill and look forward to it quickly moving on to a vote.”

This afternoon, Congresswoman Renee Ellmers introduced H.R. 5481 - The Flexibility in Health IT Reporting (Flex-IT) Act of 2014. This important legislation would ensure that health care providers receive the flexibility they need to successfully comply with HHS’ Meaningful Use Program.

On August 29th, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a short-sighted final rule, maintaining a provision that requires providers to perform a full-year EHR reporting period in 2015. It is unclear why HHS insisted on such a timeframe, given the difficulties faced by providers in 2014.

The Flex-IT Act will allow providers to report their Health IT upgrades in 2015 through a 90-day reporting period as opposed to a full year.  This shortened reporting period would be an important first step in addressing the many challenges faced by doctors, hospitals and other medical providers due to the inflexible mandates of the Meaningful Use Program.

To date, only 9 percent of our nation’s hospitals and 1 percent eligible healthcare professionals have demonstrated the ability to meet Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements using the 2014 Edition Certified Electronic Health Record Technology.  This represents an alarming fraction of the hospitals required to be Stage 2-ready within the next 15 days, before October 1, 2014.  While eligible professionals have more time, their situation is even more troubling - with only 3,152 physicians (1.3 percent) having met the Stage 2 bar.

By adjusting the timeline, providers would have the option to choose any three-month quarter for the EHR reporting period in 2015 to qualify for Meaningful Use. The additional time and flexibility afforded by these modifications will help hundreds of thousands of providers meet Stage 2 requirements in an effective and safe manner. This legislation will reinforce investments made to date and will ensure continued momentum towards the goals of the Meaningful Use Program, including enhanced care coordination and interoperability.

Click here to view H.R. 5481 - The Flexibility in Health IT Reporting (Flex-IT) Act of 2014.

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Congresswoman Renee Ellmers serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is Chairwoman of the Republican Women’s Policy Committee. She represents the Second District of North Carolina which includes all of Fort Bragg.

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