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Legislation introduced in the House of Representatives would codify an exemption from Medicare penalties for pathologists and other hospital-based physicians under the meaningful use of electronic health record (EHR) program.

The CAP advocated and secured hardship exemptions from meaningful use penalties in 2015 and 2016. The College continues to call for permanent relief from future penalties. In 2014, a CAP grassroots effort resulted in a bipartisan group of more than 100 lawmakers in the House and Senate to write the CMS to urge the agency to grant pathologists relief for the next five years.

Rep. Renee Ellmers (R, NC) introduced the Further Flexibility in HIT Reporting and Advancing Interoperability Act, the Flex-IT 2 Act, on July 30. In addition to expanding the hardship exemptions, the legislation would give providers additional regulatory relief while encouraging interoperability.

"Today's legislation is key to supplying healthcare providers with flexibility and certainty, as they struggle yet again to meet the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) stringent requirements pertaining to meaningful use," Ellmers said. "This legislation supplies relief by delaying Stage 3 rulemaking until at least 2017 in order to give providers time to breathe and a reprieve from the unfair penalties."

"Only 19% of providers have met Stage 2 attestation requirements—a clear sign that physicians, hospitals and healthcare providers are challenged in meeting CMS' onerous requirements," she said. "Given this basic fact, I’m uncertain why CMS would continue to push forward with a Stage 3 rule. From my conversations with doctors back home, it is clear they are eager for relief."

Read Ellmer's bill, HR 3309.

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With about five weeks left before the transition to ICD-10, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is hosting on August 27 a national provider call to discuss implementation of the new diagnosis coding set replacing ICD-9 on October 1, 2015.

Pathologists and laboratory managers can now register for the call. The August 27 call will begin at 2:30 PM ET.CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt will open the discussion with an ICD-10 implementation update. Then, Sue Bowman from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and Nelly Leon-Chisen from the American Hospital Association (AHA) will be joining the call to provide coding guidance and tips.

Starting with claims for services provided on or after October 1, 2015, claims will only be accepted if they contain a valid ICD-10 diagnosis code. For 12 months after ICD-10 implementation, Medicare review contractors will not deny physician claims based solely on the specificity of the ICD-10 diagnosis code as long as the physician used a diagnosis code from the right family of codes.

Read the entire CMS FAQ document. And, read a CMS letter to physicians about the ICD-10 transition.

Access the CAP's archived webinar from May 21 on ICD-10. CAP members can email the College for their Practice Management Questions.

Additional CAP ICD-10-CM resources are available for members and Practice Managers Forum Participants (login required).

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The CAP invites CAP members to participate in a quick survey regarding our STATLINE newsletter. Your valuable feedback will allow us to evaluate and improve the e-newsletter to best meet your needs. Please take a moment to participate in our STATLINE readership survey.

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