Health IT orgs want more time for MACRA implementation

CHIME asked CMS to extend the MACRA transition period to 2019, while HIMSS wants more time to implement eCQMs each year.

Two of the country’s foremost health IT organizations are asking the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for one thing when it comes to MACRA: time.

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) asked CMS to extend the “pick your pace” policy for the new MACRA regulations through 2018. Under an updated enforcement policy outlined by CMS, 2017 is considered a transition year to allow clinicians to ease into new payment models and reporting requirements, and test data submission systems.

CHIME’s suggestion echoed comments submitted by the American Medical Association (AMA), which also urged CMS to extend the transition into 2018.

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Additionally, CHIME said the deadline for Meaningful Use Stage 3 measures should be postponed an extra year to 2019. The organization noted most vendors are not prepared to meet Stage 3 requirements and members have said they won’t have upgraded systems until “well into 2018.”

“We are deeply concerned with CMS’ decision to push forward with timelines that call for Stage 3 and Stage 3-like measures beginning in 2018,” CHIME wrote in its letter to CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt. “Both vendors and providers need time to prepare for the requirements. For vendors that means development time and for providers that means testing and deployment.”

Meanwhile, comments submitted by HIMSS argued that healthcare providers need more time to incorporate electronic quality measures (eCQMs), advocating for an 18-month window to incorporate any substantive changes to the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). Currently, healthcare organizations could have as little as two months between annual MIPS/Advanced Alternative Payment Model (APM) final rule released each November and a January 1 implementation date to adopt eCQM changes to EHR systems.

CHIME also highlighted ongoing concerns regarding industrywide interoperability, calling on CMS to develop “a uniform set of widely adopted standards” rather than creating more onerous requirements for physicians. Additionally, the organization said CMS needs to do more to incentivize physicians to defend against cybersecurity threats and “engage in good cyber hygiene,” but ease up on forcing providers to attest to specific phrasing regarding data blocking.

HIMSS said it was disappointed in the limited role of telehealth and remote monitoring technologies within MACRA, and asked CMS to incorporate a broader focus on health IT advancements and personal connected health in an effort to further interoperability within healthcare. A recent survey found that telemedicine regulations remain a top concern for most state medical boards across the country.

RELATED: Telemedicine a top concern for state medical boards

"To enable broader adoption of telehealth and remote monitoring, CMS must explicitly incent the use of evidence-based information and communications technologies, including telehealth, remote monitoring, and others, for the delivery of clinician services associated with patient-centered care," HIMSS wrote.