AMA Wire

Friday, March 29, 2013

This Week's News

CMS to slow down Stage 3 meaningful use plans, assess program's success

CMS to slow down Stage 3 meaningful use plans, assess programs success

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is applying the brakes to its fast-moving plans for the electronic health record (EHR) meaningful use program, thanks to efforts by the AMA.

Acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner announced earlier this month that the rulemaking process for Stage 3 won't take place in 2013 as anticipated. Rather, the agency will pause to assess the program's success and review input from physicians and others in the health care industry.

Speaking to a crowd of 30,000 health IT specialists at the HIMSS 2013 conference in New Orleans, Tavenner emphasized that the agency intends to use the delay to focus on achieving greater interoperability across EHR systems and boosting the exchange of health information.

"That means we are going to spend 2013 on education and learning what is working in Stage 2 and what isn't working," Tavenner said.

The AMA submitted formal comments on Stage 3 earlier this year, urging CMS to evaluate the program's earlier stages and resolve existing problems before moving forward with new rules.

"[I]t is a serious mistake to keep adding stages and requirements to the meaningful use program without evaluating Stage 1 of the program," AMA CEO and Executive Vice President James L. Madara, MD, wrote in the letter. "[A]n evaluation should occur between each stage of the meaningful use program and prior to finalizing the requirements for the next stage.

"It makes no sense to add stages and requirements to a program when even savvy EHR users and specialists are having difficulty meeting the Stage 1 measures."

The AMA will continue to advocate for improvements to the meaningful use program and work with CMS to ensure Stage 3 requirements are both reasonable and achievable for physicians in all specialties and practice settings.