AHA: meaningful use rule 'asking for too much, too soon'

By Diana Manos
09:23 AM

Members of the American Hospital Association (AHA) prepare to swarm Capitol Hill this week with a list of legislative measures they want changed. According to Rick Pollack, AHA executive vice president, the meaningful use rule will be at the top of the list.

The rule is "asking for too much, too soon," Pollack said at an opening plenary session of the forty-first annual AHA conference Monday.

The proposed rule, released late last December, would require hospitals to comply with 23 measures to qualify for incentives under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is expected to issue the final meaningful use rule by late this spring.

Pollack said the rule needs to be fixed to provide "a reasonable, phased-in approach" for hospitals to become meaningful users of healthcare IT.

In addition, Pollack said, the rule should be changed to include all facilities within a hospital system – even if they all share one official provider number. This needs to be changed so that hospitals with multiple campuses are eligible for funding, he said.

AHA is also calling for changes to how critical access hospitals would be paid meaningful use Medicaid incentives, Pollack said.

On Capitol Hill this week, AHA members will urge Congress to change other legislation, including the new healthcare reform law. AHA leaders said the organization supports the new law, but it "needs some tweaking."

AHA President Rich Umbdenstock said the new healthcare reform law will put prevention and pay-for-performance in the forefront of how hospitals do business.

Hospitals will have to find ways to deliver care more efficiently at a lower cost, and Medicare fee for service will soon become a relic, he said.

The Obama Administration and framers of the new law have said they believe that healthcare IT will be pivotal in creating a change because care data will be monitored with IT and the most effective methods will become universal across all geographic regions of the country.

"Hospitals will no longer be paid for what they do, but for how much bang for the buck they deliver," Umbdenstock said.

"The mantra used to be 'do more with less.' This is now changing to 'do better with less,'" he added.

On the bright side, Umbdenstock said some hospitals have already begun "to jump out ahead" in improving value and lowering costs.

"Hospital agenda needs to force healthcare's new reality to catch up with us," he said.

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