On Friday, HHS published a final rule outlining a process for disciplining the accrediting organization that oversees the federal government's permanent program for certifying electronic health records, Health Data Management reports (Goedert, Health Data Management, 11/23).
Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR systems can qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments.
Health care providers seeking to meet meaningful use requirements can use EHR systems approved by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's authorized testing and certification bodies. ONC previously authorized six temporary ONC-ATCBs.
In January, ONC issued a final rule to establish a permanent certification program for EHR systems and modules. The final rule stipulates that ONC will choose one organization -- the ONC-approved accreditor -- to accredit groups aiming to become a health IT certification body. In June, ONC designated the American National Standards Institute as the ONC-AA.
The permanent certification program originally was set to replace the temporary program on Jan. 1, 2012, but ONC recently announced that it would delay the launch of the permanent program by six months (iHealthBeat, 11/3).
New Final Rule
Under the final rule, ONC can issue a notice proposing to remove an ONC-AA from the permanent certification program if the accrediting entity fails to respond to a warning about a perforance violation or if it commits a violation such as fraud or embezzelment.
An ONC-AA that receives such a notice will have 20 days to contest their removal from the program. Accrediting entities that are removed from the program can reapply to be an ONC-AA after one year.
In the final rule, ONC states that the removal process will "protect the integrity of the permanent certification program and maintain public confidence in the program by removing an ONC-AA that engages in misconduct or fails to satisfy its performance obligations under the program" (McKinney, Modern Healthcare, 11/23).
The final rule will take effect 30 days after its publication in the Federal Register on Nov. 25 (Mosquera, Government Health IT , 11/23).