Health Care Groups Stump for More Meaningful Use Flexibility

September 16, 2014 in News

A group of health care associations sent a letter to HHS urging the agency to give eligible professionals and hospitals additional flexibility in fiscal year 2015 to upgrade electronic health record systems to meet requirements for Stage 2 of the meaningful use program, Clinical Innovation Technology reports (Walsh, Clinical Innovation Technology, 9/16).

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.


On Sept. 4, CMS published a final rule in the Federal Register that gives providers until FY 2015 to attest to meaningful use Stage 2 and delays the start date for Stage 3 from Jan. 1, 2016, to Jan. 1, 2017.

Specifically, the rule will allow eligible professionals, eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals to:

  • Attest to meaningful use under the 2013 reporting year definition and use the clinical quality measures from 2013;
  • Avoid penalties for failing to move to meaningful use Stage 2 during the 2014 reporting period; and
  • Use the 2011 Edition certified EHR technology or a combination of 2011 and 2014 Edition certified EHR technology for the 2014 EHR reporting period.

However, the final rule noted that the proposed changes are just for 2014 and that all eligible providers will be required to use the 2014 Edition of certified EHR technology beginning in FY 2015 (iHealthBeat, 9/2).

Letter Details

The letter, which was addressed to HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell, was signed by 16 health care organizations, including the:

  • American Hospital Association;
  • American Medical Association;
  • College of Healthcare Information Management Executives;
  • Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society; and
  • Medical Group Management Association (Miliard, Healthcare IT News, 9/16).

In the letter, the groups wrote that they were “surprised to learn that flexibilities meant to mitigate 2014 challenges did not also address program misalignment in 2015 and beyond.”

Instead of requiring a full-year of attestation data, the groups argued that HHS should “provide for a shortened, 90-day EHR reporting period in [FY] 2015,” which is set to begin in two weeks (Murphy, EHR Intelligence, 9/16).

According to the letter, just 143 hospitals have demonstrated an ability to meet Stage 2 requirements using 2014 Edition CEHRT, representing less than 4% of the hospitals required to be Stage 2-ready within the next two weeks.

The groups wrote, “This additional time is vitally important to ensure that hospitals and physicians continue moving forward with technology to improve patient care.” They added, “By making such changes, HHS would improve patient safety, without compromising momentum towards interoperability and care coordination supported by health IT” (Clinical Innovation Technology, 9/16).

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