Hospitals have a newfound cushion of time to meet stage 3 meaningful use measures, which they now won’t have to satisfy until 2019, a year later than was previously required.

According to a new timeline issued by the CMS Wednesday in the final Medicare Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System rule, hospitals can continue to use 2014 certified electronic health record technology through the end of 2018 and will be required to use 2015 certified EHR technology starting in 2019. This applies to Medicare payment and policies for patients discharged from hospitals between Oct. 1, 2017, and Sept. 30, 2018.

The change to certified EHR technology requirements mirrors the change for physicians in the Quality Payment Program proposed rule issued in June, which would also allow providers to continue using 2014 certified EHR technology for another year.

Right now, there are 96 products certified for the 2015 edition, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s Certified Health IT Product List, compared to 3,749 certified for the 2014 edition. Trade groups and CIOs have been worrying as of late that leaving the 2015 certification requirement in place would have providers scrambling to get new technology in place. “By no longer requiring these new systems be in place by the start of 2018, a huge weight has been lifted off our collective shoulders,” said Liz Johnson, chair of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives.

The final IPPS rule also changes the reporting period requirements. Now, hospitals can report clinical quality measures for just one quarter of 2017, rather than for the full year, thereby easing another burden and potentially putting off when hospitals need to be ready to report, as they could start reporting as late as October of 2018.


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Healthcare hiring rose at a sizzling 39,400 jobs in July, marking the second straight month that job growth surpassed the white-hot average monthly gain of 32,000 last year.

The July hiring binge by hospitals and clinics happened even as the Senate debated most of the month on different plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act and dramatically scale back Medicaid funding.

A final repeal bill failed by a narrow 51-49 vote in the Senate on July 27.

Hiring in ambulatory care centers led the way in July, adding 30,000 jobs.

And though admissions have flattened in recent months, as evidenced by the second-quarter earnings releases of investor-owned hospital giants HCA, Community Health Systems and LifePoint Health, hospitals added 7,300 jobs in July.

The healthcare sector joined a broad-based surge of hiring for the month. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday identified an increase of 209,000 non-farm jobs nationally in July, beating an analyst consensus forecast of 180,000.

The national unemployment rate fell to 4.3%.

The July healthcare hiring surge followed a strong gain in June of 36,600 jobs, the statistics show. In July, the labor department slightly revised up the June numbers by 100 jobs.

Before the hiring jump in June and July, hiring in 2017 had muddled along at about a 24,000 monthly average. Healthcare economists pointed to the cloud in Washington over the possible repeal of the ACA as a factor.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated the Senate bills being debated would cause about 20 million people to lose their insurance and slash Medicaid budgets whose expansion is largely responsible for a burst of newly insured since 2010.

But healthcare providers expanding especially the number of ambulatory centers and clinics they operate have pushed past the political turmoil to hire workers to serve an ever-growing number of seniors needing care.

Home healthcare agencies did the most hiring among providers in July, bringing aboard 11,300 more employees.

Outpatient centers and hospitals tied as the next biggest hirers, each adding 7,300 jobs in July.

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Anthem has reached a $115 million deal to settle a class-action lawsuit over a 2015 data breach in which hackers stole personal information from 78.8 million employees and current and former members.

The settlement is the largest data-breach settlement ever. As part of the deal, Anthem will offer two years of credit protection to those affected—in addition to the two years of monitoring they already received—and will set aside funding for cybersecurity improvements, including modifying its current cybersecurity systems. It will also set aside $15 million to pay plaintiffs for out-of-pocket costs due to the breach.

The deal comes more than two years after Anthem announced hackers had gained access to its IT system. They stole the names, birthdates, Social Security numbers, addresses, and other information of tens of millions of people.

“As we have seen in cyberattacks against governments and private sector companies including Anthem over the past few years, many cyberthreat actors are increasingly sophisticated and determined adversaries,” the company wrote in a statement. “Anthem is determined to do its part to prevent future attacks.”

The settlement must be approved by a U.S. District Court in California.


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