AMA Applauds EHR Attestation Extension, Calls for More Changes

March 2, 2015 in News

While the American Medical Association announced its support for CMS’ decision to extend the deadline for eligible professionals to attest to the Medicare meaningful use program, the group warned that participation will remain low without further changes to the program’s requirements, Healthcare Informatics reports.

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (Leventhal, Healthcare Informatics, 2/26).

Background

Last week, CMS pushed back the 2014 reporting deadline for eligible professionals from Feb. 28 to March 20.

CMS said it extended the deadline to “allow providers extra time to submit their meaningful use data,” adding that the agency continues to encourage providers to start attesting for the 2014 reporting year as soon as possible. Eligible professionals who do not attest by the new deadline could face a payment adjustment beginning Jan. 1, 2016.

CMS said that deadlines for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program are not affected by the extension.

However, CMS said that the new March 20 deadline applies to eligible professionals who wish to switch from the Medicare program to the Medicaid program — or vice versa — for the 2014 payment year (iHealthBeat, 2/25).

AMA Reaction

In a statement, AMA President-Elect Steven Stack said that while AMA is “pleased” with the extension, it “underscores that the meaningful use program is not working.”

Stack said that policymakers should:

  • Remove the measures of the program that eligible professionals find most difficult to meet; and
  • Revamp the EHR certification program to allow vendors to develop patient-focused products.

Specifically, Stack said “policymakers need to act on [AMA's] recommendations” introduced last fall (Walsh, Clinical Innovation Technology, 2/27). In a blueprint released in October 2014, AMA recommended that CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT:

  • Expand options for specialists in Stage 3 and require physicians to meet 10 or fewer Stage 3 measures;
  • Provide hardship exemptions for all stages of the meaningful use program; and
  • Remove the all-or-nothing attestation approach and instead implement a 50% threshold for incurring penalties and a 75% mark for earning Stage 1 and Stage 2 incentives (iHealthBeat, 10/15/14).

Addressing these recommendations would make the program more flexible, Stack said (Clinical Innovation Technology, 2/27).

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