Panel proposes delay of Meaningful Use Stage 2

After hearing numerous concerns from providers and electronic health record (EHR) vendors, the Health IT Policy Committee--in a 12 to 5 vote on June 8--recommended delaying by one year (until 2014) Stage 2 of the Meaningful Use program for those providers complying with Stage 1 criteria this year.

In a letter sent to Farzad Mostashari, MD, the National Coordinator for Health IT, the committee said it found through testimony and public comments that the current schedule for compliance with Stage 2 objectives in 2013 posed "a nearly insurmountable timing challenge" for those who attested to Meaningful Use in 2011.

As initially planned, vendors would have been required to "design, develop, and release new functionality" by June 2012, while eligible hospitals would have had to "upgrade, implement, and begin using the new functionality" by the beginning of October 2012.

After considering the trade-offs between this urgency--and the "ability to safely deliver and to effectively use the new functionality"--the panel recommended (only for those who begin to attest to Meaningful Use in 2011) an extra year to phase in the Stage 2 expectations.

This means that Stage 1 demonstration and attestation would continue through 2013, while Stage 2 would start in 2014 and Stage 3 in 2015, reports Government Health IT. With the proposed revised timing, providers still would receive the same payments as planned. However, in 2013, early Meaningful Use participants will be required to wait to attest and receive payments for Stage 2 in 2014.

Those who attest to Stage 1 for the first time in 2012 would "continue to have the same expectation (2014) for meeting the Stage 2 criteria," according to the letter.

Following review by Mostashari, the recommendations would then go to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for rulemaking.

For more information:
- see the committee's draft letter
- read the Government Health IT article
- view the Health Data Management article

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