CMS

CMS Official: Very Few Hospitals, Providers Have Attested to Stage 2

Only four hospitals and 50 eligible professionals have attested to Stage 2 of the meaningful use program, a CMS official said Tuesday at a Health IT Policy Committee meeting, Modern Healthcare reports.

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Background

The Medicare EHR incentive program requires hospitals that have attested to Stage 1 for two or three years to advance and attest to Stage 2’s more stringent requirements during the federal fiscal year 2014, which began Oct. 1, 2013. Hospitals that fail to demonstrate meaningful use for 90 consecutive days during the fiscal year risk losing their incentive payments and a 1% reduction in their Medicare reimbursements.

Eligible professionals who have attested to Stage 1 of the Medicare meaningful use program for at least two years must advance to Stage 2 by the end of 2014. The 90-day attestation period for eligible professionals began on Jan. 1, and they have until the end of the calendar year to attest (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 5/6).

Stage 2 Attestation Figures

On Tuesday, Elisabeth Myers — head of policy and outreach at CMS’ Office of eHealth Standards and Services — told Health IT Policy Committee members that as of May 1:

  • 50 of the 225 eligible professionals that have attested for the 2014 reporting year have done so for Stage 2; and
  • Just four of the 30 eligible hospitals that have attested for the 2014 reporting year have done so for Stage 2 (Walsh, Clinical Innovation & Technology, 5/6).

However, Myers told committee members that meaningful use registration has reached:

  • Nearly 95% among hospitals eligible for the Medicare program;
  • 57.8% among health care professionals eligible for the Medicare program; and
  • 28.9% among those eligible for the Medicaid program (Durben Hirsch, FierceEMR, 5/6).

Meanwhile, Jennifer King — acting director of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s Office of Economic Analysis, Evaluation and Modeling — shared findings from a recent ONC-funded survey of U.S. hospitals that showed mixed adoption rates for Stage 2 functionalities.

King said that “many of the Stage 2 meaningful use functionalities had very high adoption rates,” but noted that adoption of some functionalities still is lagging.

For example, only 10% of hospitals reported having EHR systems that could meet the “view, download and transmit” objectives.

In response to a question about the successfulness of Stage 2, Myers said, “I don’t think that we have enough data … to answer that question yet” (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 5/6).

Hardship Exceptions

During the Policy Committee hearing, Myers also updated members on hardship exception applications, Health Data Management reports.

She said that so far 600 eligible professionals have applied for hardship exceptions for the 2013 reporting year-2015 payment adjustment year ahead of the July 1 deadline.

The hardship exception deadline for eligible hospitals was April 1, and Myers said CMS received 72 applications, of which:

  • 66 were approved; and
  • Six were dismissed because they applied for the exception unnecessarily (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 5/7).
Source: iHealthBeat, Wednesday, May 7, 2014
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