HIT community criticizes proposed changes to anti-kickback rules

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Changes to the anti-kickback rules proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will not spur the use of healthcare IT according to several comments submitted during the public comment period for the proposed rule.

American Hospital Association Executive Vice President Richard Pollack in a Dec. 5 letter to HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson wrote, "The [Office of the Inspector General's] failure to provide an anti-kickback safe harbor imperils an important opportunity to increase physician use of EHRs and thereby significantly improve quality of care for patients."

Scott Wallace, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Health Information Technology, in a Dec. 8 letter to CMS, wrote, "To focus solely on the potential for fraud and abuse is to see only half the picture." He added that the proposed regulations do not advance interoperability.

The proposals would allow physicians to accept donated software for the purpose of electronic prescribing, but other applications bundled with e-prescribing systems would have to be removed from the software, according to Bill Head, NAHIT's vice president of policy and government affairs. The proposals require physicians to certify that the items and services they are receiving are not technically or functionally equivalent to those they already have, which could make physicians cautious of connecting to hospitals.