Calling the Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements "weaker" than the Stage 1 rules, four House Republicans sent a letter to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius yesterday demanding that incentive payments to providers be frozen until the agency "promulgates universal interoperable standards."
Reps. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Wally Herger (R-Calif.) and Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) also called for delaying penalties against providers who choose not to adopt electronic health records.
"More than four and a half years and two final Meaningful Use rules later, it is safe to say that we are no closer to interoperability in spite of the nearly $10 million spent."
The lawmakers added that, should Meaningful Use continue on as is, it will be a waste of taxpayer dollars and likely won't improve outcomes for Medicare. They cited the fact that while the Stage 1 final rules required providers to test information exchange abilities with other providers, Stage 2 eliminates that requirement.
"As a result, hospitals and physicians who are deemed Stage 1 'meaningful users' are not required to know with certainty whether their systems are capable of exchanging information," they wrote. "More than four and a half years and two final Meaningful Use rules later, it is safe to say that we are no closer to interoperability in spite of the nearly $10 million spent."
The House members also claimed that the EHR incentive program "appears to be doing more harm than good," citing an analysis of Medicare data published recently in a New York Times article. That Times article also referenced a highly debated analysis from the Center for Public Integrity that found that EHRs might lead to physician upcoding.
"We urge you to rethink your strategy related to Meaningful Use criteria and instead focus on the stated goal of making healthcare delivery more efficient and affordable," the lawmakers wrote. "Continuing down the current path will further exacerbate Medicare's looming bankruptcy, create demand for billions of dollars in additional incentive payments once interoperability standards are finally put in place, and further frustrate providers."
To learn more:
- read the letter (.pdf)