Wednesday, May 9, 2012
This Week's News
This Week's News
Stage 2 of Medicare's meaningful use program too rigid, physicians tell CMS
Nearly 100 medical associations are calling for greater flexibility in Stage 2 of the electronic health record (EHR) "meaningful use" program in formal comments submitted Monday.
In a 37-page letter addressed to acting Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, the AMA and 98 other medical associations warned that many physicians would be unable to meet the program's Stage 2 requirements unless the agency makes considerable modifications to its proposed rule.
"Changes to … the proposed Stage 2 criteria and penalty programs are necessary to ensure that the meaningful use program lives up to its intended purpose—to help physicians adopt, implement and meaningfully use EHRs," the organizations wrote.
Key changes the medical associations are requesting include:
- Fewer measures in the required core set.
- Allowing a physician to opt out of a certain number of measures, particularly if a measure has little relevance to his or her specialty.
- The elimination of measures that require action from another party and would therefore be beyond a physician's control.
- More exemptions from the penalty program, including a broad category that lets physicians apply based on their individual circumstances and an exemption for those who are close to retirement.
- An appeals process for physicians who believe they met program requirements.
The organizations also are urging CMS to survey physicians, both those who participated in Stage 1 and those who did not, to identify barriers and determine solutions to help doctors participate in the program.
"The AMA is supportive of widespread adoption and meaningful use of EHRs by physicians, but the cumbersome proposed criteria will make successful physician participation extremely difficult," AMA Board Chair-elect Steven J. Stack, MD, said in a news release. "Physicians are at varying stages of implementing health IT into their practices and should get credit for making a good faith effort to meet the meaningful use requirements."
In a separate letter, also sent Monday, the AMA asked the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to revise its proposed 2014 EHR standards to ensure greater EHR usability and robust health information exchanges.