AHA urges 'immediate action' to finalize MU flexibility

The American Hospital Association is once again asking Congress for relief in meeting the Meaningful Use requirements.

The American Hospital Association has reiterated its request that Congress enact proposed legislation softening the Meaningful Use program before the current session ends this year.

In a Nov. 11 letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch, chair of the Committee on Finance, and Ron Wyden, a ranking committee member, AHA Executive Vice President Thomas Nickels asks the lawmakers to take “immediate action” on the EHR Regulatory Relief Act (S.3173) to provide hospitals “much-needed relief” regarding meeting the Meaningful Use requirements.

The bill, introduced this past summer, would eliminate the all-or-nothing approach, enabling hospitals to meet the requirements of achieving Meaningful Use if they hit 50 to 70 percent of measures. The bill also would extend flexibility in applying for a hardship exception and allow hospitals to report measures for 90 days in a year, not 365 days. The 2017 hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System final payment rule allows for 90-day reporting, but only for 2016 and 2017.

The bill was introduced by the six GOP senators who had called for a “reboot” of the Meaningful Use program.

The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), which moves physicians out of the Meaningful Use program into a new quality reporting system, has already softened the EHR requirements doctors must meet, such as reducing the number of measures required and eliminating the all-or-nothing approach for meeting Meaningful Use, now called “advancing care information.”  

The AHA expressed concern about the ensuing disparity.

As MACRA's changes to Meaningful Use are implemented, "it will be essential to ensure that program requirements are aligned across all participants, including physicians, hospitals and critical access hospitals," the letter states. "This alignment is critical to ensuring the ability to share information and improve care coordination among providers across the continuum. The Oct. 14 final regulations for MACRA fall short in this regard."