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    Department of Health and Human Services makes concessions on electronic health record incentives

    Stage 2 final rule addresses several criticisms of original proposal

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    Bob Gatty
    Washington—With the Nov. 6 election approaching, urologists, like all other Americans, are weighing their decisions as to whom to support for president and Congress. There is a lot at stake, especially when it comes to health care, implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and very possible huge changes in Medicare.

    While there are major differences between President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney on many fronts, issues involving the impact of the ACA and specific provisions, such as the establishment of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), will be part of the decision-making process for many health care professionals.

    Although those important political developments have our attention, urologists also should know that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has published a new final rule that will directly affect their practices.

    The final rule outlines Stage 2 in the government's incentivized electronic health records adoption program. It reflects some significant concessions by HHS in response to concerns expressed by numerous physicians' organizations.

    "The changes we're announcing today will lead to more coordination of patient care, reduced medical errors, elimination of duplicate screenings and tests, and greater patient engagement in their own care," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in announcing the new rule Aug. 23.

    Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, health care professionals and hospitals can qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments when they adopt and meaningfully use certified EHR technology.

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    Bob Gatty
    Bob Gatty, a former congressional aide, covers news from Washington for Urology Times.

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