Hospitals to feds: Finalize Meaningful Use flexibility rule 'quickly'

The American Hospital Association (AHA) "strongly" urges the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to finalize a proposed rule that provides flexibility in the criteria to be used when organizations attest to Meaningful Use in 2014. Otherwise, it says, the "extremely late release" of the rule would be of limited benefit. 

In its comment letter on the proposed rule, dated June 17, the AHA notes that fewer than 10 hospitals and 50 professionals have attested to Stage 2 of Meaningful Use in 2014 and that the flexibility is sorely needed.  

"The flexibility offered in the proposed rule would support continued adoption of EHRs; without it, many providers are likely to conclude that they cannot meet meaningful use this year and abandon the program," the letter states. "That would be an unfortunate outcome for American healthcare, and unfair to providers, given that they would miss out on promised incentives despite their ongoing investments and be subject to future payment penalties for failure to meet Meaningful Use."

The AHA also requests that the agencies:

  • Provide greater flexibility in the electronic clinical quality measures reported
  • Clarify and simplify how the rule would be implemented, including removal of limitations on eligibility, since "many different scenarios" could prevent the implementation of 2014 edition of certified EHR technology, including those that "may not have been foreseen by our comments or agency staff"
  • Recognize that 2015 also will be a transition year, and shorten reporting for 2015 to 90 days
  • Learn from Stage 2 before finalizing the start date for Stage 3
  • Verify that the specific proposed changes to regulatory text support the intended flexibility

Many providers have run into trouble transitioning to 2014 certification criteria, in large part because the vendors have not had sufficient time to upgrade their software. The proposed rule, issued in May, would enable providers to use the 2011 edition of certified EHR technology and give them the option to attest using the 2013 core and menu objectives and the 2013 definition of clinical quality measures.

To learn more:
- read the comment letter (.pdf)