Hospitals to HHS: Finalize MU Stage 2 rule now

A rule easing requirements to the Meaningful Use program is past due, and hospitals "need the certainty of a final rule now," according to a coalition of hospitals and health systems.

In a letter to Health and Human Services Department Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the organizations say that the rule will impact the current MU program year since FY2015 ends Sept. 30. If HHS does not release a final rule as soon as possible, there will be "significant hardships" for hospitals and physicians, they write.

"Even if reporting is moved to a calendar year, hospitals need the certainty of a final rule now to determine the best reporting period to choose and begin the process of reviewing performance and ensuring they have met all of the revised requirements," they write.

Groups signing the letter include: America's Essential Hospitals, American Hospital Association, Association of American Medical Colleges, Catholic Health Association of the United States, Children's Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals, Premier healthcare alliance and VHA Inc.

The organizations say they are in support of flexibilities in the proposed rule, which was issued April 10, including a 90-day reporting period for FY2015 and changes to MU requirements that were "exceedingly difficult to meet given current technology and infrastructure for exchange."

However, they add that some changes in the proposed rule, which include e-prescribing requirements and public health reporting measures, would make it hard for providers to meet Stage 2 of the program.

Another letter on the proposed rule, penned by electronic health record vendors, provider representatives and others, made its way to Burwell's desk late last week.

That 18-member coalition, which included the College of Healthcare Information and Management Executives and EHR vendor Cerner, said it is "critical" the proposed 90-day reporting period be confirmed and that proposals for public health reporting be clarified and enhanced.

The federal government is also taking heat from provider organizations over Stage 3 of Meaningful Use. CHIME previously has called it too ambitious and said its proposals are "unworkable." In addition, new legislation introduced to Congress last month aims to delay Stage 3 until at least 2017 to give providers "time to breathe and a reprieve from the unfair penalties."

To learn more:
- here's the letter (.pdf)