Bill to Expand EHR Incentives to Hospital Outpatient Docs Stripped

The Senate stripped out provisions in a pending jobs bill that would have put hospital-based physicians who treated outpatients in line to receive health IT incentives under the HITECH Act.

Those provisions may now be part of future legislation.

The initial version of the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act contained a provision that would have allowed physicians who practice in outpatient or walk-in clinics associated with a hospital to qualify for the Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments if they become “meaningful users” of health IT. [See story]

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) yesterday unveiled a pared down version of  the bill without the health IT provisions that focused on business tax credits, highway infrastructure on other job stimulus measures.

He said this legislation was “a simplified, focused bill.”

At a later date, the Senate may consider another piece of legislation that contains the healthcare IT provisions of the committee’s jobs bill.

Previously, physicians working in hospital environments were not eligible for the incentives because the HITECH Act said they depend “substantially” on a hospital’s “facilities and equipment, including qualified electronic health records.”

Under the earlier version of the legislation, outpatient physicians working in hospitals would qualify to receive the funding.

Upon passage of the legislation, these changes would have become “effective as if included in the enactment of the HITECH Act,” according to the earlier draft legislation.

The source of this article is Government Health IT, a publication of HIMSS.

Feb 16 2010

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