AMA Adopts Policies on EHR Penalties, Interstate Licensure

November 11, 2014 in News

On Monday, the American Medical Association at its Interim Meeting adopted a policy that calls for meaningful use penalties to be removed from the electronic health record incentive payment program, EHR Intelligence reports (Murphy, EHR Intelligence, 11/11).

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

Penalties are scheduled to start in 2015 for eligible professionals and hospitals that have not yet met meaningful use requirements (Gold, “Morning eHealth,” Politico, 11/11).

According to AMA, the penalties will detract from providers’ efforts to coordinate care and achieve interoperability (EHR Intelligence, 11/11).

AMA President-elect Steven Stack said, “The whole point of the meaningful use incentive program was to allow for the secure exchange of information across settings and providers, and right now that type of sharing and coordination is not happening on a wide scale for reasons outside physicians’ control.”

In addition to calling for increased interoperability, AMA also recommended that policymakers ease regulations that will allow EHRs to become more user-friendly (AMA release [1], 11/10).

FSMB Policy Details

During the meeting, AMA also adopted a separate policy supporting the Federation of State Medical Board’s interstate compact for physician licensure, “Morning eHealth” reports (Morning eHealth,” Politico, 11/11).

The compact aims to boost patient safety and facilitate the licensing of doctors across state borders, including those who provide telehealth services. Specifically, the compact:

  • Creates a faster licensing process for physicians who practice telehealth or who are interested in practicing medicine across multiple states;
  • Provides an alternative way for physicians to obtain a state license; and
  • Reaffirms that the patient’s location sets the applicable oversight and patient protections (iHealthBeat, 7/28).

According to “Morning eHealth,” AMA officials said the compact is in line with the association’s policy that physicians receive licensure from where their patients are treated (“Morning eHealth,” Politico, 11/11).

Under AMA’s new policy, the association will support medical associations and FSMB in expediting adoption of the compact. In addition, AMA will help create an Interstate Medical Licensure Commission.

Stack said AMA “encourage[s] more states to sign on to the compact so that we can ensure standards of care are maintained, whether treatment is provided in person or via telemedicine” (AMA release [2], 11/10)

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