On Monday, the American Medical Association sent a letter to CMS raising concerns that a majority of health care providers will be unable to advance to Stage 2 of the meaningful use program under the current timetable, Health Data Management reports (Goedert, Health Data Management, 7/22).
Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.
In May, CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT proposed a rule that would give providers an additional year to upgrade EHR systems to meet reporting requirements for Stage 2 of the meaningful use program.
The proposed rule would change:
- The meaningful use timeline;
- The definition of certified EHR technology; and
- Requirements for the reporting of clinical quality measures for 2014.
Specifically, the proposed rule would provide additional flexibility by allowing eligible professionals, eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals to use the 2011 Edition certified EHR technology or a combination of 2011 and 2014 Edition certified EHR technology for the 2014 EHR reporting period.
Providers would be able to attest to meaningful use under the 2013 reporting year definition and use the clinical quality measures from 2013.
In addition, providers scheduled to begin attesting to Stage 2 in 2014 who have run into vendor problems could use 2014 Edition certified EHR technology to meet the 2014 Stage 1 objectives (iHealthBeat, 6/30).
The deadline to submit comments on the proposed rule closed July 21 (Durben Hirsch, FierceEMR, 7/21).
In the letter, AMA argued the rule change does not offer enough relief.
In particular, AMA expressed concern that the proposal appears to be “aimed at helping the earliest [meaningful use] adopters” and offers little relief to the majority of providers who are struggling to meet requirements (Health Data Management, 7/22).
In addition, AMA reiterated its concerns regarding the program’s:
- “All-or-nothing” approach, recommending that CMS implement a 75% pass rate to allow physicians who meet half of meaningful use requirements to avoid penalties; and
- Hardship exemption deadline, requesting that the date be extended to at least 30 days after the final rule is published (FierceEMR, 7/21).
Further, AMA noted that the rule does not align meaningful use reporting with the Physician Quality Reporting System, requiring physicians to report twice to avoid penalties (Health Data Management, 7/22).