Corrects misguided meaningful use provision aimed at ambulatory surgery centers
December 15, 2016, Washington, D.C. – President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed the 21st Century Cures Act, which includes provisions from the Electronic Health Fairness Act that will protect physicians who furnish care in ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) from potential penalties tied to the Medicare meaningful use program.
As most physicians who are members of independent GI practices perform colonoscopies and other endoscopy procedures at ASCs, DHPA advocated to exempt procedures performed at those locations from counting toward meaningful use requirements for electronic health records (EHRs). Medicare providers are required to adopt and use certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT) for at least 50 percent of their patients, yet no CEHRT is currently available for use in ASCs. This penalized physicians for performing services such as colonoscopies in an ASC even though the cost to Medicare would be about half the amount as colonoscopies being performed in the hospital setting.
“The 21st Century CURES Act will safeguard physician’s ability to provide quality, coordinated care in the ASC setting,” said Dr. Fred Rosenberg, president and chairman of the board of directors of the Digestive Health Physicians Association (DHPA). “Physicians focused on providing essential care for Medicare beneficiaries will no longer be unduly burdened by an unfair requirement to meet meaningful use provisions for CEHRT, allowing them to focus instead on meeting patients’ needs.”
Gastroenterologists and other physician specialists who care for patients in independent medical practices routinely perform procedures at ASCs, making this exemption essential for physicians providing procedures such as colonoscopies at this more cost-efficient site of care. According to a report issued by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), the average Medicare payment rate in 2014 for most services provided in ASCs was 55 percent of what would have been paid to hospital outpatient departments.
About the Digestive Health Physicians Association
The Digestive Health Physicians Association (DHPA) is a trade association comprised of 65 independent gastroenterology (GI) physician practices across the country with the aim of promoting and preserving accessible, high quality and cost-efficient care in the independent GI medical practice setting. The DHPA’s member practices include more than 1,500 gastroenterologists and other physician specialists who provide care for over 2 million people in nearly 4 million distinct patient encounters annually. DHPA member practices employ more than 8,000 employees in their medical groups.