CMS issues meaningful use final rule and offers RAI manual update timeline

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Regulators have released the final rule that outlines criteria hospitals and other providers must meet to receive funding for a federal electronic health-record incentive program.

While long-term care providers are not eligible for funding under the Stage 2 Meaningful Use final rule issued Thursday, post-acute providers will need to be fluent with EHR systems to participate in accountable care organizations and bundled payment initiatives, experts say. To be eligible for EHR funding, providers must satisfy the rule's requirements by early 2014, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The agency said the final rule is intended to “cut red tape and make the certification process more efficient,”

Officials from CMS also announced Thursday that it currently is reviewing comments from skilled nursing facilities for an upcoming update to the MDS 3.0 RAI Manual. In a Skilled Nursing Facility Open Door Forum, CMS officials couldn't say for certain when the update manual would be published, but were optimistic it would be ready some time after Oct. 1. The last updates were published April 1, 2012.