CMS Issues Final Meaningful Use Stage 2 Modifications and Stage 3 Rules

October 7, 2015

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released the final rule for the Meaningful Use program that includes Stage 2 modifications and Stage 3 rules. CMS said the final rule adopts flexible reporting periods that are aligned with other programs to reduce burden, offering a 90-day reporting period in 2015 for all providers, for new participants in 2016 and 2017, and for any provider moving to Stage 3 in 2017. This continuous 90-day reporting period is not tied to a calendar quarter.

Let VHQC Explain What This Means for Your Practice
Now that the final rule has been released, VHQC can help you understand the details of these measures, exclusions and specifications relevant to providers. We have been preparing for the expected changes since they were first proposed. VHQC team members are experts at helping you apply CMS regulations within your organization and are ready to show how the final rule affects your practice. Contact us at or at 800-207-7928.

Overview of Rule Provisions
For the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs in 2015 through 2017, major provisions include:

  • 10 objectives for eligible professionals including one public health reporting objective. This has been reduced from 18 total objectives in prior stages.
  • Elimination of the percentage threshold for Objective 8 – Patient Electronic Access in 2015 and 2016.
  • Elimination of the percentage threshold for Objective 9 – Secure Messaging in 2015 and 2016.

For Stage 3 of the EHR Incentive Programs in 2017 and subsequent years, major provisions include:

  • 8 objectives for eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals: In Stage 3, more than 60 percent of proposed measures require interoperability, which is up from 33 percent in Stage 2.
  • Public health reporting with flexible options for measure selection.
  • Clinical Quality Measures reporting aligned with CMS quality reporting programs.

Stage 3 requirements are optional in 2017 but providers who choose to begin Stage 3 in 2017 will have a 90-day reporting period. All providers will be required to comply with Stage 3 requirements beginning in 2018 using EHR technology certified to the 2015 Edition.

CMS said the changes will simplify the structure and reduce reporting requirements for providers participating in the program by removing measures that have become duplicative, redundant, and reached wide-spread adoption.

“We have a shared goal of electronic health records helping physicians, clinicians, and hospitals to deliver better care, smarter spending, and healthier people,” said Dr. Patrick Conway, M.D., M.Sc., CMS Deputy Administrator for Innovation and Quality and Chief Medical Officer. “We eliminated unnecessary requirements, simplified and increased flexibility for those that remain, and focused on interoperability, information exchange, and patient engagement.”

As part of the regulations, CMS also announced a 60-day public comment period to facilitate additional feedback about Stage 3 of the EHR Incentive Programs going forward, in particular with the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), which established the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and consolidates certain aspects of a number of quality measurement and federal incentive programs into one more efficient framework. CMS will use the feedback to inform future policy developments for the EHR Incentive Programs, as well as consider it during rulemaking to implement MACRA, which is expected to be released in spring 2016.

Save the Date for VHQC’s Webinar About the Final Rule
Join VHQC on Thursday, October 29 at noon for a webinar discussing the final rule for the Meaningful Use Program that was issued by CMS. Click here to register.

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