CMS: 2014 MU Stage 2 attestation off to a slow start

Very few providers are attesting to Stage 2 of the Meaningful Use program so far this year, according to the latest data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Elizabeth Myers, in CMS' Office of e-Health Standards and Services, reported to ONC's Health IT Policy Committee May 6 that just 50 of the 224 eligible professionals that have attested so far for the 2014 reporting year have attested to Stage 2 of the program.

The numbers are even worse for eligible hospitals: only four of the 30 EHs that have attested for the 2014 reporting year have attested to Stage 2.

EHs are in the seventh month of the 2014 reporting period; EPs are in the fourth month.

The Stage 2 attestation numbers appear to be in stark contrast to the overall participation numbers Myers reported. Almost 95 percent of hospitals have registered for the program; 57.8 percent of EPs have registered for the Medicare program and 28.9 percent have registered for the Medicaid incentive program.

More than 91 percent of EHs have received an electronic health record payment for MU or AIU under the Medicaid program, and more than 370,000 EPs have received payment. More than $22.9 billion in incentive payments have been made since the program's inception in 2011.

Seventy two EHs have applied for a hardship exemption, and 66 of those have been granted. Six-hundred EPs have applied for a hardship exemption; the deadline for submitting those applications is July 1.

Myers' presentation does not address why there is such a disparity between the number of registrants in the program and the low number of those who have moved up to Stage 2 of attestation. However, many have pointed a finger at EHR vendors, many of whom were not ready to move to Stage 2 on time and/or have opted not to do so. Providers also may choose to drop out of the program rather than attest to Stage 2, which has more stringent requirements. Providers who already have attested for two or more years to Stage 1 must move on to Stage 2.

HIMSS, concerned that the timetable for Stage 2 implementation was too challenging, recently recommended that CMS ease the process, such as extending year 1 of Meaningful Use Stage 2 attestation and simplify clinical quality measure requirements.

To learn more:
-  here is the presentation