A new bipartisan bill, the Electronic Health Record Incentives for Multi-Campus Hospitals Act, would allow hospitals that have more than one campus sharing a single Medicare provider number to receive a larger share of the subsidies for health information technology provided for in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
According to a news release issued by House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark (D-Calif.), Zack Space (D-Ohio), Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), the bill would eliminate the provision in the meaningful-use
subsidy requirements issued by the CMS that treats multicampus hospitals as a single unit, thereby capping the subsidy it can receive without recognizing the "incremental acquisition, training and implementation costs" they incur.
The American Hospital Association, in a letter to Space
(PDF), offered its "strong support" for the measure.
"We applaud today's action that would make clear the intent of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, passed as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, to provide payment incentives in an equitable way to individual hospitals that are part of multicampus hospital systems,” wrote AHA Executive Vice President Richard Pollack.
"Providing these payments to only one hospital in a multihospital system would not accurately account for the implementation and training costs of EHRs across different institutions; nor would it accurately reflect differences in clinical services provided at different sites."
Because the House recently adjourned until Sept. 14, it isn't known when any action will take place on the legislation, which has 31 co-sponsors. The bill would offer multicampus hospitals a choice as to how they can receive extra payment: They could either take an additional base payment of $2 million per campus and one payment based on the hospital's Medicare and Medicaid discharges, or they could receive only one base payment and get additional per-discharge amounts for each campus.
"The current rule provides only one payment for multicampus hospitals, treating them as if they were only one hospital," Burgess said in a news release." In reality, though, if a hospital has multiple campuses, they will be spending money for HIT implementation at each location. Even after several attempts to get this provision fixed, the rule still ignored the issue, and this bill would finally fix the problem."
In the same release, Space said, "This legislation is important for hospitals in my district and across the state of Ohio, who haven't been getting their fair share of recovery dollars. This bill will help our hospitals advance their technology, improve the quality of care and better serve their patients."
Executives at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit and Montefiore Medical Center in New York previously stated that with the way the meaningful-use rules are currently written, they stand to lose
several million dollars in EHR subsidies—$3.5 million and up to $25 million, respectively.