Certification and the CMA (AAMA) Credential, On the Job

The CMS Rule and “Grandfathering” in Washington

Following my last post, I received a question about medical assistants in the state of Washington who may have been “grandfathered” into the Washington MA-C credential, and thus have never passed a national certification exam. Would such medical assistants be considered properly “credentialed” by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for entering orders into the computerized provider order entry system for meaningful use purposes under the Medicare and Medicaid Incentive Programs?

It is my opinion that, under Washington law, Medical Assistants-Certified (MA-Cs) who were grandfathered in because they were previously Health Care Assistants (HCAs) would not be considered “credentialed medical assistants” under the CMS Incentive Programs rule. Likewise, Medical Assistants-Registered (MA-Rs) would not be considered credentialed, because they did not take and pass an examination given by a third-party credentialing body.

In addition, the question also raised concern that many medical assistants would only earn a credential to satisfy the initial CMS requirement, and not keep that credential current. Remember, any medical assistant whose CMA (AAMA) credential is not current cannot use the credential for any purposes, including order entry. A CMA (AAMA) who is not current, therefore, would not be considered “credentialed” under the CMS rule.