MGMA to CMS: Incentive programs still need alignment

The Medical Group Management Association used the proposed physician payment rule as an opportunity to point out that the Meaningful Use program still doesn't align adequately with other programs.

The final rule implementing Stage 2 of the Meaningful Use incentive program added an additional hardship exception, allowing for exemption from the electronic prescribing program if a physician successfully attests in the electronic health record incentive program.

However, MGMA said in comments about the payment rule that this exemption doesn't eliminate burdens on physicians. It said that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services should "harmonize" the programs and automatically exempt physicians from the e-prescribing and other reporting programs if they've successfully attested to Meaningful Use. The exemption, it added, also should be expanded.

"MGMA urges CMS to use its regulatory authority to deem all physicians that meet Meaningful Use requirements [and therefore electronically prescribe and report clinical quality measures under that program] as also successfully meeting all e-prescribing and PQRS requirements in each corresponding performance year," MGMA President and CEO Susan Turney said in a letter to CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. "Eligible professionals that successfully meet the Meaningful Use requirements should automatically earn the bonus for PQRS and avoid penalties for both e-prescribing and PQRS."

MGMA also objected to imposing penalties on physicians for unsuccessfully participating in incentive or quality reporting programs; if penalties must exist, Turney said, they only should apply after taking into account a practice's performance for that year, not prior years.

While the comment period on the Stage 2 Meaningful Use rule has long been closed, comments on the 2013 physician payment rule still can be submitted until September 4.

MGMA is not the only stakeholder that has expressed concern about the need for better alignment among the incentive programs. The American Medical Association also has asked CMS to further align the programs.

Moreover, while many in the industry still are digesting the final rule, some stakeholders have already expressed concern about providers' ability to meet its requirements, according to Healthcare IT News. Others, such as the American Hospital Association, warned that the rule makes the path to EHRs "more challenging."

To learn more:
- read the MGMA comment letter
- here are AMA's comments
- read the AHA's announcement
- check out this Healthcare IT News article