5 Reasons Sen. Alexander Wants to Delay Stage 3
In recent months, the Senate health committee has conducted six hearings exploring the successes and problems associated with the electronic health record meaningful use program. Chairman Lamar Alexander has been critical of how Stages 2 and 3 were put together, with low attestation rates for Stage 2 and fears that Stage 3 is being rushed.
The committee is pressing hard for the government to delay release of the final Stage 3 rule until January 2017; Alexander has spelled out five reasons why the delay is crucial. (Photo: Fotolia)
Stage 2 requirements are so complex that only about 12 percent of eligible physicians and 40 percent of eligible hospitals have been able to comply. The modifications to Stage 2 (currently not yet enacted because the final rule hasn’t been released) should be adopted immediately so providers can comply. Rushing out a final Stage 3 rule now would only make it more difficult for doctors and hospitals to meet the program requirements. (Photo: Fotolia)
The administration’s top priority is changing the way the Medicare program pays doctors. The plan is to have Medicare pay providers based on the quality, rather than the quantity, of care they give patients. Under the new Merit-Based Incentive Payment System, 25 percent of a score that determines a provider’s penalty or bonus payment will be based on participation in the Meaningful Use program.
The formula for the merit-based incentive payment system was part of a law passed this year. Just this week, the administration has begun the process of developing regulations to implement that system. Because of the payment impact, it’s incredibly important to doctors and hospitals to get the meaningful use program right. (Photo: Fotolia)
Some of the leading medical institutions in the country with the best electronic health records systems recommended that the government take more time to develop the Stage 3 rule.
Physicians and hospitals have said that they are literally "terrified" of Stage 3, because of its complexity and because of the fines that will be levied for noncompliance. (Photo: Fotolia)
Sen. Alexander released a report, requested along with several other senators, from the Government Accountability Office, which found that many of the meaningful use program’s rules and requirements for electronic health records are actually preventing records systems from being able to communicate with one another – they are getting in the way of that critical exchange of data.
GAO polled 18 organizations in the private sector, and at the state and local levels working to achieve interoperability, and found that the majority of them–10 of the 18—believe that “efforts to meet the (Meaningful Use) programs’ requirements divert resources and attention from other efforts to enable interoperability.”
As important as any other reason, Congress has been working with the administration diligently for months to develop seven areas of agreement for legislation to actually achieve interoperability. It would make the most sense to make the final rule consistent with the goals of that legislation. These areas are:
Decreasing unnecessary physician documentation; enabling patients to have easier access to their own health records; making electronic health records more accessible to the entire health care team, such as nurses; stopping information blocking, which could be described as intentionally interfering with access to my personal health information; ensuring the government’s certification of a records system means what it says it does; improving standards; and ensuring the security and privacy of patient records. (Photo: Fotolia)
“I had a piano teacher who always told me: ‘Play the music a little slower than you can play it, and you’re more likely to get it right,’” Alexander says. “I have given the administration that advice. A bipartisan group of 96 Republicans and 20 Democrats in the House of Representatives also, in a separate letter to the administration, urged it to ‘pause’ the process of making Stage 3 rules final.” (Photo: Fotolia)
In recent months, the Senate health committee has conducted six hearings exploring the successes and problems associated with the electronic health record meaningful use program. Chairman Lamar Alexander has been critical of how Stages 2 and 3 were put together, with low attestation rates for Stage 2 and fears that Stage 3 is being rushed. The committee is pressing hard for the government to delay release of the final Stage 3 rule until January 2017; Alexander has spelled out five reasons why the delay is crucial.
5 Reasons Sen. Alexander Wants to Delay Stage 3
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