CMS's proposal to extend the timelines for the Meaningful Use incentive program will give stakeholders more opportunity to evaluate it but will not impact the momentum of the program itself, according to Jacob Reider, M.D., acting national coordinator for health IT.
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"We are continuing to move forward. We're on the brink of Stage 2 and maintaining our focus on interoperability. We're keeping the pedal to the metal but recognize that its takes time to prepare for Stage 3, so we need a clear understanding of what's successful in Stage 2," he explained in a press conference held Dec. 6--just before ONC announced the timeline change.
Reider also explained that ONC's proposal to take a "more regular approach" to updating ONC's certification regulations by issuing more regular updates and publishing a voluntary 2015 edition of certification criteria will give health IT developers and providers more predictability and a "heads up" on the path that CMS is "telegraphing."
Issuing more regular updates will also enable the technological standards to better align with other CMS reporting programs in a "consistent, scalable manner."
The timeline for the "payment adjustments" shouldn't be impacted because they're tied to years of participation in the program, not at what stage a provider is in, Reider noted.
The extension comes as welcome news within the industry, but doesn't assuage all concerns about the program. HIMSS noted in a statement that it was "gratified" by the proposals but was that other issues, such as extending year 1 of Meaningful Use Stage 2 attestation, still need to be addressed. Robert Tennant, senior policy advisor for the Medical Group Management Association recommended at CMS' eHealth Summit, also held Dec. 6, that the transition to Stage 2 should be eased and more flexible and that funding for the regional extension centers be expanded.