CMS, ONC release proposed rules for Meaningful Use Stage 3

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) have issued their proposed rules outlining the requirements for Stage 3 of the Meaningful Use incentive program. The proposed rules make several expected changes to Meaningful Use.

The CMS rule specifies the Meaningful Use criteria and maintains, for the most part, payment adjustments and hardship exceptions. Following a proposed "optional" year in 2017, starting in 2018 all providers would report on the same streamlined definition of Meaningful Use at the Stage 3 level, regardless of prior participation. It would also require reporting on a calendar-year basis starting in 2017.

The rule contains only eight objectives, which focus on advanced use of electronic health record (EHR) systems. The eight objectives are designed to align with national healthcare quality improvement efforts, promote interoperability and health information exchange and focus on the triple aim of reducing costs, improving access and improving quality. The objectives are meant to be flexible and pertain to health information exchange, consumer engagement and public health.

The ONC rule, meanwhile, proposes a new 2015 edition based EHR definition as well as a certification program that's both open and accessible to more types of health IT as well as health IT that supports various care and practice settings. It focuses on data portability, adoption of application program interface (API) functionality and support of ONC's interoperability roadmap.

"The flow of information is fundamental to achieving a health system that delivers better care, smarter spending, and healthier people. The steps we are taking today will help to create more transparency on cost and quality information, bring electronic health information to inform care and decision making, and support population health," Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in an announcement emailed to FierceEMR.

The Meaningful Use program has come under fire in recent months. Many have called for changes in its scope, direction, and structure, while others have recommended that implementation of the program be postponed.

The proposed rules will be published in the Federal Register March 30. Comments are due by May 29.

To learn more:
- read the CMS proposed rule (.pdf)
- here's the ONC proposed rule (.pdf)
- here's the ONC's fact sheet (.pdf)