What Is the Federal Law on Medical Records and Time Requirements

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Health care and medical records guidelines are continually changing, as are the federal laws that govern them. A prime example of this is electronic medical records (EMR) and the deadline by which all health care professionals must have a system in place.

History of Federal Medical Record Laws

In the mid-1990s, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, more commonly known as HIPPA. This was designed to protect patient information, simplify the medical records transfer from physician to physician and reduce health care-related fraud. In addition, the federal government enacted the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (AARA), containing vital changes to the health care guidelines. This includes plans to act as encouragement for more physicians and hospitals to comply with EMR HIPPA laws.


Physicians, hospitals and other health care providers began using EMR systems in the early 2000s with good reason -- they must. To be in compliance with HIPPA and receive the AARA incentives, providers must have the ability to show “meaningful use” through the EMR system they choose to use. If a provider has not complied with the law by 2015, it faces steep penalties.


The cost of acquiring and implementing an EMR system can be high depending on the program chosen. It is this very reason that the health-related portion of the AARA was created. The incentives for Medicare participating providers can be as high as $44,000, and for Medicaid providers, as high as $63,750. These financial contributions are designed to help providers cover the cost.


By complying with the federally mandated EMR laws, physicians and other health care providers can offer more secure services to patients, as well as gain the opportunity to receive financial support from the U.S. Government.

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