EHR Safe Harbor Exception Extended Through 2021

An exception to Stark self-referral and antikickback rules for physicians who accept donations of nearly-free electronic health records (EHRs) items and services from certain health care entities was set to expire last year, but it will continue through 2021. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published companion rules that extend the regulatory exemptions.

Physicians who receive these EHRs must pay at least 15 percent of the technology's cost to be eligible for the exception.

American Medical Association and TMA advocacy helped persuade HHS to extend the exemption through 2021, the year the Medicaid meaningful use program ends. In a letter to CMS, TMA opposed removal of or expiration of the exemption. "By keeping the safe harbor in place, physicians will have options for securing appropriate technology needed for their practice," TMA wrote.

The rules also make these notable changes:

  • A provision that laboratories may no longer donate EHRs,
  • A new definition of software considered "interoperable" for donation purposes,
  • Clarification of the prohibition of actions that limit or restrict the use, compatibility, or interoperability of donated items, and
  • Removal of the requirement related to electronic prescribing capability.

Action, Jan. 17, 2014

Last Updated On

January 16, 2014

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