Good news for clinics and facilities employing the meaningful use EHR Incentive Program: a new proposed bill is aiming to reduce the requirements to stay in the program, thereby allowing more physicians to participate for longer.

In the years since its introduction under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), meaningful use has attempted to encourage the use of electronic health record (EHR) technology by offering Medicare reimbursement to facilities that can prove they are using such technology in meaningful and quantifiable ways. At its core, this seems like a perfect plan: it gives providers an incentive to transition away from antiquated paper formats, which in turn allows medical coders to more easily interpret documentation that isn’t scrawled in rushed handwriting. Unfortunately for clinical staff, this program comes in three parts, and those who participate face increasingly strict guidelines to follow after the first year. This in turn has led to countless requests for “hardship exemptions,” a special status requested by medical professionals who can prove that the stricter rules will result in excessive hardship for their facilities.

The new bill, known as H. R. 3120, is hoping to alleviate this issue, specifically by “amend[ing] title XVIII of the Social Security Act to reduce the volume of future electronic health record-related significant hardship requests.” Although this bill would not eliminate the need for clinical staff to continue to meet and document meaningful use criteria, it would loosen the requirements for those who stick with the program for long periods of time.

Though many healthcare professionals are excited about the bill’s possible updates, it may be a while before any official changes come. H. R. 3120 was first introduced to the House of Representatives at the very end of June, so expect a lengthy wait before any official modifications to the meaningful use policies come into full effect.