The AHA last week expressed its support for the Flexibility in Health IT Report (Flex-IT) Act, H.R. 270, which Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., reintroduced in the new Congress on Jan. 12. The legislation would give hospitals and eligible professionals more flexibility in meeting meaningful use requirements for electronic health records (EHR) in 2015.

The legislation would shorten the 2015 reporting period to one quarter of the year from the current full-year reporting for Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program participants using the 2014 Edition Certified EHR.

Original co-sponsors include Ron Kind, D-Wis., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., David Scott, D-Ga., and Glenn Thompson, R-Pa.

“America’s hospitals are strongly committed to the adoption of EHRs, because of their potential to increase the quality of care and reduce costs for patients,” said AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack, in a Jan. 12 letter to Ellmers. “The health care field is faced with many major challenges and changes, all hitting at the same time. We need to be practical and responsible in terms of implementation timetables. That’s why hospitals need flexibility. This legislation is a positive first step toward ensuring the program is a success, and America’s hospitals look forward to working to achieve its passage.”

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Ellmers criticized the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for imposing “stiff deadlines” on providers. “The time constraints imposed on doctors and hospitals are inflexible and simply unmanageable,” she said.

Last month, 30 members of Congress – spearheaded by Ellmers – sent a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell urging a shortened 90-day EHR reporting period in 2015. They said the policy change is critical to ensuring that hospitals and physicians can successfully participate in the Meaningful Use program.

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