Hospitals press HHS on meaningful use

'The rule is past due'
By Mike Miliard
10:07 AM
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Their patience wearing thin, a group of leading hospital organizations have implored Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to publish pending meaningful use modifications sooner rather than later.

[See also: CMS makes meaningful use modifications]

In a letter this past week that CC'd Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt, eight hospital groups urged CMS "to release, in the immediate future," final rule modifications to meaningful use for fiscal years 2015 to 2017.

"The rule is past due, given that it will affect the current program year for meaningful use," according to the letter, co-signed by America's Essential Hospitals, American Hospital Association, Association of American Medical Colleges, Catholic Health Association of the United States, Children's Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals, Premier healthcare alliance and VHA Inc.

[See also: Flex-IT 2 bill calls for meaningful use relief]

"Indeed, under current rules, meaningful use applies to fiscal year performance for hospitals. FY 2015 ends on Sept. 30 – fewer than 60 days from now," they write.

CMS recently floated a proposal to shift meaningful use reporting to the calendar year. Even then, however, "the last possible reporting period would begin on Oct. 3," according to the letter.

"Even if reporting is moved to a calendar year, hospitals need the certainty of a final rule now to determine the best reporting period to choose and begin the process of reviewing performance and ensuring they have met all of the revised requirements."

While recent proposed changes to MU, such as a 90-day reporting period for FY 2015 and simplified patient electronic access requirements are appreciated, the hospitals want CMS to quickly "finalize those changes as proposed."

They object to other proposals, however – mandating the e-prescribing of discharge medications, requiring new public health reporting measures – that "would make meeting Stage 2 more difficult."

Not to mention the fact that "given the delay in the release of a final rule, they would be virtually impossible for hospitals to accommodate."

Without quick action from the feds, hospitals "simply will not have sufficient time to understand the new requirements, work with their vendors to purchase and implement new or revised technology that would accommodate them, and invest in the training and work flow changes necessary to meet the new requirements," according to the letter.

Read it here (PDF).

[See also: Senate suggests Stage 3 MU delay]