HHS officials: Meaningful Use attestation on the rise

Nearly 80 percent of hospitals eligible for Stage 2 of Meaningful Use have attested to the incentive program's requirements, according to data presented Tuesday at the year's first Health IT Policy Committee Meeting.

Eligible hospitals, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's Dawn Heisey-Grove, were those that had completed two years of Stage 1 attestation. Based on that definition, 56 percent of EHs were Stage 2 eligible, with 77 percent of those attesting to that threshold through November.

Using the same definition, only 42 percent of eligible professionals were able to attest to Stage 2 in 2014; almost six in 10 EPs met those demands.

Historically, Heisey-Grove said, EHs and EPs attest following the close of their reporting year. For this reporting year, she noted that most hospitals attested after FY2014. EPs have until the end of February to attest.

Through the first of this year, 1,814 EHs had successfully attested to Stage 2 for 2014, according to data from CMS; for EPs, that number was 16,359.

"It's very encouraging to see that enough providers were able to implement the software to get this high a percentage actually able to demonstrate Stage 2, based on the software that's available to them.," Elizabeth Myers of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of E-Health Standards and Services said. "Our big concern over the past year has been the availability of software that's necessary for all providers to participate in the program. This means that the software availability issue is resolving slowly but surely."

Committee Chairman Paul Tang said the biggest "ah ha" moment for him was the distinction of who's attesting vs. who's eligible.

"Just using the Stage 2 attesters is missing the big denominator," he said. "The majority of [EHs] who could attest for Stage 2 did in fact do so, and eligible providers still have three months more data to accumulate. This was a big 'ah ha' for me in terms of how do we interpret the raw numbers with Stage 2. … We're pretty much on track with where we were last year."

Myers said that a little more than 200 EHs and about 240,000 EPs have started to receive penalties for failing to attest to the program's requirements. In December, CMS announced that roughly 257,000 EPs will be hit with a 1 percent penalty to their Medicare Physician Fee Schedule payments for failing to meet Meaningful Use.

"Those payment adjustments are based on your percentage of Medicare claims volume," Myers said. "The number [of EPs] who are actually receiving a significant payment adjustment--and by significant I mean if we did a cutoff estimate of $5,000 above or below--is a very, very small number."

Myers added that anyone who's receiving a payment adjustment this year is independent from a lot of the data presented at the meeting. "It's based on whether or not you came into the program in 2013 with whether or not you've actually started the program at this point."

To learn more:
- listen to the meeting's audio (mp3)
- here's the CMS data (.pdf)
- check out ONC's presentation (.pdf)