Seventeen Republican senators have joined the chorus of stakeholders urging the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to extend the deadline Stage 2 of the Meaningful Use Incentive Program.
The senators--led by John Thune (S.D.) (right), chair of the Senate Republican Conference, and Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee--sent a letter Sept. 24, to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, asking for a one-year extension "for providers who need extra time to meet the new requirements."
The senators expressed three key concerns with the current timeline:
- Significant timeline pressure
- A widening of the "digital divide" for small and rural providers
- Serious unintended consequences of the rush, such as stifling innovation and increasing medical errors
The senators asked Sebelius to respond by Oct. 8.
Others have called for Stage 2's implementation to be delayed, including the Medical Group Management Association, American Medical Association, American Hospital Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians. The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives has already weighed in, praising the Senators for their action.
This most recent letter does not go so far as to ask that the Meaningful Use program be "rebooted" or paused. Previous Republican communications have asked that the program be reassessed, and called it a "waste of taxpayer dollars."