AMA: Proposed rule discourages doc participation in EHR program

The proposed requirements for Stage 2 of Meaningful Use are too inflexible and difficult to attain, discouraging physician participation in the incentive program rather than encouraging it, according to a comment letter sent by the American Medical Association to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services this week.

The AMA, along with 98 other state specialty medical societies, supported some of the elements of the proposed rule, but expressed concern that the criteria were cumbersome, especially since physicians are still facing challenges in meeting the measures for Stage 1 of Meaningful Use. 

"Changes to the Meaningful Use program including the proposed Stage 2 criteria and penalty programs, are necessary to ensure that the Meaningful Use program lives up to its intended purpose--to help physicians adopt, implement, and meaningfully use EHRs," the organizations noted in the comment letter.

The medical groups suggested, among other things, that:

  • CMS evaluate Stage 1 before finalizing Stage 2;
  • Measures factor in relevancy and include exclusions;
  • The suggested thresholds are too high;
  • Only measures within a physician's control should be used;
  • Good faith efforts to meet Meaningful Use should count;
  • The requirements be synchronized more with other health IT programs;
  • Appeals processes be expanded; and that
  • Certain exemption categories be established, such as physicians close to retirement age

The medical groups' concerns mirror those made by other provider organizations. For instance, the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the medical groups both requested that providers be afforded more time before providing information to patients. Both the medical groups and the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) requested that providers need only demonstrate Meaningful Use for 90 days in the first year of Stage 2.

Meanwhile, electronic health record vendors, while supportive of the proposed rule, also expressed concern that it was overly ambitious, with the Electronic Health Records Association (EHRA) recommending a shorter reporting period in the first year of Stage 2, fewer objectives and better alignment with other health IT programs.

To learn more:
- read the AMA's comment letter
- here's the AHA's comment letter
- check out CHIME's comment letter
- read EHRA's comment letter
- read the proposed rule

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