The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services late today released a final rule with comment period modifying the reporting period for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records Incentive Programs in 2015 to a 90-day period to align with the calendar year. The rule also adds other flexibilities, including reducing the share of patients that must use the patient portal from 5% to at least one patient and modifying the summary of care requirements. “We are pleased that CMS released the long-awaited modifications rule...Hospitals will finally have the clarity they need to take steps to ensure they meet the revised requirements,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack in a statement. In addition, the rule defines Stage 3 “meaningful use” for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program, and says all participants will be required to meet Stage 3 beginning in 2018. Pollack called the release of the rule implementing Stage 3 “deeply disappointing.” “Despite the urging of hospitals, physicians and Congress, the Stage 3 final rule includes many new and more challenging requirements,” said Pollack, noting that more than 60% of hospitals and about 90% of physicians have yet to attest to Stage 2. “The Stage 3 rule is too much too soon.” CMS seeks comments on certain provisions of Stage 3, in particular to support the transition to the Merit-based Incentive Payment System, which was established by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology also released a companion rule that finalizes new certification criteria, standards and implementation specifications for EHR technology. AHA members will receive a Special Bulletin tomorrow with more details on the rules.