Following ASCRS/ASOA Advocacy, CMS Posts FAQ Regarding Public Health Objective for Meaningful Use in 2015

When CMS released the Stage 2 Modifications Rule, ASCRS realized that an additional requirement had been added for providers who were not previously required to report the public health objective.

Previously, in 2015 Meaningful Use, the public health measures were menu measures, so providers could choose not to report them. However, under the new Modifications Rule, providers are to report the public health measures, which means they must actively engage with an immunization agency, public health agency, and clinical data registry or qualify for exclusions for each measure to successfully attest to Meaningful Use. Ophthalmologists could always claim an exclusion for the immunization agency and public health agency measures. ASCRS notified CMS that providers would have an issue with the clinical data registry measure. CMS assured ASCRS that they did not intend to require any additional new action from providers with the Modifications rule and would rectify the issue with the release of an FAQ.

Today, CMS published an FAQ clarifying that if a provider did not previously intend to report the public health measures 2 and 3 for 2015, they may choose an alternate exclusion for these measures. Therefore, ophthalmologists can now claim exclusions for all three public health measures; an exclusion for measure 1 and 2 because they do not apply to ophthalmology and an exclusion for measure 3, if the provider was not previously planning to report these measures. ASCRS is advising providers to claim the exclusion for measure 3, if they were not previously planning to report this measure, regardless of whether they had previously signed up for a clinical data registry, including the IRIS registry.

The entire FAQ is pasted below:

Question: For 2015, how should a provider report on the public health reporting objective if they had not planned to attest to certain public health measures? Is there an alternate exclusion available to accommodate the changes to how the measures are counted?

Answer: We do not intend to inadvertently penalize providers for their inability to meet measures that were not required under the previous stages of meaningful use. Nor did we intend to require providers to engage in new activities during 2015, which may not be feasible after the publication of the final rule in order to successfully demonstrate meaningful use in 2015.

In the final rule at 80 FR 62788, we discuss our final policy to allow for alternate exclusions and specifications for certain objectives and measures where there is not a Stage 1 measure equivalent to the Modified Stage 2 (2015 through 2017) measure or where a menu measure is now a requirement. This includes the public health reporting objective as follows.

First, EPs scheduled to be in Stage 1 may attest to only 1 public health measure instead of 2 and eligible hospitals or CAHs may attest to only 2 public health measures instead of 3.

Second, we will allow providers to claim an alternate exclusion for a measure if they did not intend to attest to the equivalent prior menu objective consistent with our policy for other objectives and measures as described at 80 FR 62788.

CMS will allow Alternate Exclusions for the Public Health Reporting Objective in 2015 as follows:

  • EPs scheduled to be in Stage 1: Must attest to at least 1 measure from the Public Health Reporting Objective Measures 1-3: May claim an Alternate Exclusion for Measure 1, Measure 2 or Measure 3.An Alternate Exclusion may only be claimed for up to two measures, then the provider must either attest to or meet the exclusion requirements for the remaining measure described in 495.22 (e)(10)(i)(C).
  • EPs scheduled to be in Stage 2: Must attest to at least 2 measures from the Public Health Reporting Objective Measures 1-3: May claim an Alternate Exclusion for Measure 2 or Measure 3 (Syndromic Surveillance Measure or Specialized Registry Reporting Measure).

If you have any questions, please contact Ashley McGlone at 703-591-2220.