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7/7/2010
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Healthcare Meaningful Use Criteria In Final Review

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has sent its final meaningful use rules to the Office of Management and Budget for review, the last step before publishing the regulations.

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act's long-awaited meaningful use criteria are in the home stretch.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has sent its final meaningful use rules to the Office of Management and Budget for review, the last step before publishing the regulations in the Federal Register for them to become effective.

The HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' final rules for its "Health Information Technology: Initial Set of Standards, Implementation Specifications, and Certification Criteria for Electronic Health Record Technology," was sent to OMB for review on July 2, according to the OMB's Reginfo.gov site.

The Reginfo.gov site provides the public with information related to OMB regulatory reviews "consistent with the disclosure requirements of Executive Order 12866, President Obama’s January 21, 2009, Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, and the OMB Open Government Directive," according to OMB.

The review process can take up to 90 days, said OMB. However, with President Obama's health IT czar Dr. David Blumenthal's repeatedly stated goal of publishing the rule by "late spring or early summer," the review could be completed sooner.

Also, under the $20 billion-plus HITECH Act signed into law by Obama in Feb. 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, healthcare providers are to become eligible for meaningful use financial rewards beginning in 2011.

However, without the final set of meaningful use criteria formalized yet, many healthcare providers and vendors of health IT products, such as e-heath record systems, have worried that they won't have sufficient time to meet the first wave of meaningful use requirements.

Until the final meaningful use rules clear the OMB review and are published, healthcare providers and others will continue to speculate on what changes were made by HHS in response to the more than 2,000 public comments it received to its interim meaningful use rules published in the Federal Register on Jan. 13, 2010.

According to OMB, this current review "is the last step of the rulemaking process." However, in the meantime, healthcare providers shouldn't expect a peek of the final rules.

"Draft documents under review are considered deliberative and are not available for public release during review," according to OMB.

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