OIG's EHR Vulnerability Report Sparks Congressional Debate Over MU Program

A recently released report from HHS' Office of the Inspector General criticizing CMS's electronic health record fraud-detection procedures has several Senators' concerns about CMS' EHR incentive programs.

The report claims the advent of EHRs has created a myriad of new ways for healthcare organizations to present inaccurate, misleading or inflated information to CMS, including overdocumentation and the overuse of the copy-and-paste function. However, the OIG concluded CMS has not done enough to update its investigative practices to respond to these new avenues to fraud.

The OIG report "confirms the concerns we expressed last spring about the need for adequate oversight of the EHR program to prevent waste and fraud," said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), in a news release. "I support the use of EHR systems as a way to improve health care, but CMS must ensure that the system is not manipulated in a way that allows for overbilling. As the administration continues to implement the next stages of the meaningful use program, CMS must do more to ensure that the technology it approves better protects taxpayer dollars."

Sen. Thune is joined in his concerns by Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).

"EHRs are important for the future of our health system, however their implementation must be done in a thorough and conscientious way that ensures all providers are included and leads to the reduction of waste or fraud and not its increase," said Sen. Roberts in the release. "I will continue to push for an interoperable health IT system but it must protect patient privacy and it must include safeguards against waste, fraud and abuse."

More Articles on EHRs:

How Drug Companies Are Using EHRs as Marketing Tools
EHR Stark, Anti-Kickback Extensions: Status Quo Allows Progress
3 Key EHR Considerations for Neonatologists 

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