AHA, CHIME call on CMS to delay and change Meaningful Use Stage 3

Both the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) are calling for similar changes to the rule that would implement Stage 3 of the Meaningful Use program, per comments sent to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt this week.

Each organization urges a delay in requiring Stage 3 until at least 2019 and only after 75 percent of eligible professionals and eligible hospitals have met the requirements of Stage 2 of the program. They also both recommend that CMS remove the pass/fail approach to meeting Meaningful Use attestation, focus on interoperability and provide a 90-day reporting period for at least the first year of Stage 3.

AHA and CHIME also both express fears about the current direction of the program. The former calls for a revised framework to reflect program experience and provide flexibility; it notes that the complexity of the program has required "excessive spending" and a focus on the Meaningful Use criteria, resources that would have been better spent on patient care. The AHA also recommends that the hardship exemptions be expanded to apply if a provider changes vendors during a reporting period.

CHIME states that while it's a proponent of the use of health IT and electronic health records, it "remains increasingly concerned that our commonly shared goals will not be met if the administration moves forward with the current plan to finalize the Stage 3 Meaningful Use requirements. We are also concerned that key issues not addressed by Meaningful Use will continue to hamper interoperability, such as the lack of way to uniquely identify patients, a problem that will only continue to grow as more health information is digitalized," CEO Russell Branzell and board chair Charles Christian write.

Many people weighing in on the rule implementing Stage 3 of the Meaningful Use program have recommended that it be revamped and its start date be delayed. Members of Congress have also expressed concern about the program and suggested that it be refocused.

To learn more:
- here's the AHA letter (.pdf)
- read CHIME's letter (.pdf)