MU Stage 2 offers 2014 flexibility

HHS publishes final rule that bends on reporting, but providers say it's not enough.
By Bernie Monegain
06:29 AM
MU Stage 2 final gives providers some flexibility, but some say not enough.

The Department of Health and Human Services published a final rule for Stage 2 meaningful use August 29 that offers hospitals and physicians flexibility for 2014. CHIME and professional organizations had asked for even more flexibility. "Millions of dollars will be lost due to misguided government timelines," said CHIME CEO Russell Branzell.

Branzell went on to state: "Now the very future of meaningful use is in question.

The new rule allows eligible providers to use the 2011 Edition of certified EHR technology or a combination of 2011 and 2014 Edition for the 2014 Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.

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Come 2015, all eligible providers will be required to use the 2014 Edition of certified EHR technology.

By bending the rule a little, more providers would be able to participate and meet important meaningful use objectives such as drug interaction and drug allergy checks, providing clinical summaries to patients, electronic prescribing, reporting on key public health data and reporting on quality measures, HHS officials noted in a news release.

“We listened to stakeholder feedback," Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a news release. “We were excited to see that there is overwhelming support for this change.”

Branzell does not feel he and the 1,400 CIO members CHIME represents were heard.

"CHIME is deeply disappointed in the decision made by CMS and ONC to require 365-days of EHR reporting in 2015. This single provision has severely muted the positive impacts of this final rule. Further, it has all but ensured that industry struggles will continue well beyond 2014," Branzell said in a press statement.

He explains: Roughly 50 percent of EHs and CAHs were scheduled to meet Stage 2 requirements this year and nearly 85 percent of EHs and CAHs will be required to meet Stage 2 requirements in 2015. Most hospitals who take advantage of new pathways made possible through this final rule will not be in a position to meet Stage 2 requirements beginning Oct. 1, 2014.

"This means that penalties avoided in 2014 will come in 2015, and millions of dollars will be lost due to misguided government timelines," he writes.

Branzell points out that nearly every stakeholder group echoed recommendations made by CHIME to give providers the option of reporting any three-month quarter of EHR reporting period in 2015.

"This sensible recommendation, if taken, would have assuaged industry concerns over the pace and trajectory of rulemaking; it would have pushed providers to meet a higher bar, without pushing them off the cliff; and it would have ensured the long-term vitality of the program itself. Now, the very future of meaningful use is in question.

Indeed, CMS heard from individual stakeholders and also from several healthcare provider organizations, such as HIMSS, CHIME and MGMA, prior to issuing the final rule.

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