Proposed rule implementing MU Stage 3 in hands of OMB

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has confirmed to FierceEMR that the proposed rule implementing Stage 3 of Meaningful Use is being reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and that it should "be on display soon."

The rule, received by OMB Dec. 31, 2014, is expected to provide savings to Medicare in payment adjustments, and while the qualitative benefits of improved quality of care and health outcomes cannot yet be quantified, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services believes that savings will also likely result from reduction in the cost of care.

Although the proposed rule itself is not yet public, HHS indicates what the rule encompasses:

"In this proposed rule, CMS will implement Stage 3, another stage of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program as required by ARRA," HHS says in its statement to OMB. "We are proposing the Stage 3 criteria that EP's, eligible hospitals, and CAHs must meet in order to successfully demonstrate meaningful use under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, focusing on advanced use of EHR technology to promote improved outcomes for patients. Stage 3 will also propose changes to the reporting period, timelines, and structure of the program, including providing a single definition of meaningful use. These changes will provide a flexible, yet, clearer framework to ensure future sustainability of the EHR program and reduce confusion stemming from multiple stage requirements."

Stage 3 of the Meaningful Use program has been somewhat in a state of flux after Stage 2 hit implementation road bumps. The start date for Stage 3 has already been pushed back to 2017. The Health IT Policy Committee, originally considering 26 recommendations for the Stage 3 rule, approved only 19 of them in March.

Various stakeholders had recommended to HHS that it scale back Stage 3 further; the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's JASON task force has recommended that it be narrowed to focus on interoperability and that implementation be further delayed or staggered.

To learn more:
- here's HHS' statement