Draft Bill Expands EHR Incentives to Outpatient Docs

The Senate Finance Committee today released the draft of a jobs bill that removes a ban against physicians in hospital-based outpatient clinics from participating in the health IT incentives in the HITECH Act.

Among its proposals, the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act would allow 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.

The release of the draft legislation is the first step in the Senate process for considering proposals to spur jobs across the economy, according to committee leaders. The House has already passed a jobs stimulus 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 proposed legislation, physicians serving in in inpatient and emergency room practices within hospital systems may still not qualify for the incentives.

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

The draft bill can be read here.

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

Feb 15 2010

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