In years past, Congress was able with little fanfare to pass legislation forestalling the physician payments cuts under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Sustainable Growth rate (SGR) formula. 2009 was a far different story. In fact, the SGR and the "doc fix" was a regular news headline for much of the first half of the year as the public was fixated on health care costs. Now, according a recently prepared letter from the Congressional Budget Office, it would appear that any long-term fix for the SGR is likely to continue to be elusive. According to the CBO, the temporary doc fix passed by Congress for the second half of 2009, together with inflationary adjustments to the Fee schedule, will over, the next 10 years, cost an estimated $330 Billion. In an era of fiscal-belt tightening, this is not comforting news to the physician community and likely means more fee schedule uncertainty next year.
In July, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the much-anticipated final regulations that providers are required to meet in order to receive the Medicare incentives for adoption of a certified electronic health record system. In those regulations, In the final rule, CMS set forth 15 core elements which must be met in order to qualify for “meaningful use” of the EHR system.
Notwithstanding the regulations, the requirements are complex and many physicians and other providers have a host of questions regarding both the regulations and the incentive program. To address some of these questions, CMS has issued a number of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on its website. To review the new EHR FAQs, physicians can click here and type the term “EHR” into the search window.