AHA pushes for more flexibility in meaningful use

It should surprise nobody that meaningful use of EMRs was a hot topic at the American Hospital Association's annual meeting in Washington this week. And AHA Executive VP Rick Pollack didn't disappoint, saying at Monday's opening plenary session that the current proposal is "asking for too much, too soon," Healthcare IT News reports.

AHA members are taking the occasion of being in the nation's capital to lobby members of Congress for various legislative changes they support, though meaningful use is in the hands of the executive branch now, as CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator work to issue a final rule this spring. Pollack said the AHA would prefer to see a "a reasonable, phased-in approach" to compliance rather than the Stage 1 plan to require hospitals to meet 23 specific measures to earn Medicare and Medicaid bonus payments starting in fiscal year 2011.

The organization also would like to see each facility within multi-hospital systems separately eligible for EMR incentives and tweaks to the rules for how critical-access hospitals qualify for extra Medicaid funding.

At least one member of Congress is sympathetic to the AHA's concerns. Speaking at the conference, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said the current plan "pushes things too fast, too soon,"according to AHA News, and would be a roadblock to effective EMR adoption.

For greater depth:
- check out this Healthcare IT News story
- see this AHA News brief
- download this AHA "Trend Watch" paper on EHRs and meaningful use (.pdf)