AMA calls for MU penalties to be dropped

The American Medical Association (AMA) continues to exert pressure to ease the burdens of the Meaningful Use program on physicians, this time approving a policy calling for the penalties to be dropped due to lack of interoperability and regulations be changed to allow electronic health records to be more usable.

The policy, approved Nov. 10 at the AMA's interim meeting, points to the fact that only 2 percent of eligible physicians have attested to meeting Stage 2 of Meaningful Use, and that the lack of interoperability is hurting the program.

"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," AMA president-elect Steven Stack said in a statement. "Physicians want to improve the quality of care and usable, interoperable electronic health records are a pathway to achieving that goal."

The policy also urges policy makers to ease the Meaningful Use regulations so to increase EHRs' usability; as currently designed, they create unnecessary clerical work for physicians and distract them from their patients. Unless the regulations are changed, starting in 2015, physicians not meeting the Meaningful Use requirements who don't qualify for a hardship exemption will be hit with a reimbursement penalty.

AMA has been aggressive in recent weeks in its attempt to make the Meaningful Use program less restrictive and EHRs more helpful to physicians, publishing a frame work to improve EHR usability and a blueprint to improve Meaningful Use. In October, it sent a strongly worded letter to CMS warning the agency that the impending 'tsunami of rules and policies' threaten both patients and physicians, and asked, among other things, that the 2015 reporting period be shortened from 365 to 90 days. 

AMA is not alone in its concern that the program is rife with problems.

To learn more:
- read the announcement