Coalition of Providers Protest Final MU Rule

Seventeen provider associations are asking the federal government to immediately reverse its decision for a full year of reporting for Stage 2 of the electronic health records meaningful use program in 2015.

The organizations in a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell are asking for a 90-day reporting period, “which would give time for providers to continue their transition without having to drop out of the program.”

A final rule published on Sept. 4 offered flexibility in attesting for Stage 2 during the short period of time remaining in the 2014 calendar and fiscal years, but retained a provision for a full-year of reporting in 2015. The industry argued during the comment period before the final rule was issued that providers would not have enough time to gear up for a full year of reporting, starting in October 2014 for hospitals and January 2015 for eligible professionals.

“Our organizations remain incredibly concerned that a full-year reporting period will diminish the benefits of the rule HHS proposed in May and complicate the forward trajectory of Meaningful Use,” according to the letter. “Program data released September 3 have validated these concerns, and continued communications with our members indicate further action is needed in 2015. For roughly 3,800 hospitals, the final rule required implementation of 2014 Edition CEHRT configured for Stage 2 measures and objectives by October 1, 2014. More than 237,000 eligible professionals (EPs) will need to be similarly positioned by January 1, 2015. This is in addition to the 1,200 hospitals and 290,000 EPs who also must have 2014 Edition CEHRT implemented before the beginning of their reporting year at Stage 1.”

(See also: Hardline MU Rule Brings Little Provider Relief)

The organizations remind Burwell that only 143 hospitals and 3,152 eligible professionals have attested for Stage 2. “This represents less than 4 percent of the hospitals required to be Stage 2-ready within the next 15 days. And while eligible professionals have more time, they are in comparatively worse shape, with only 1.3 percent of their cohort having met the Stage 2 bar thus far.”

In addition to a 90-day reporting period, provider associations ask for flexibility in meeting the Transitions of Care and View/Download/Transmit measures in Stage 2, which would spur dramatic improvement in program participation and outcomes. The groups ask for a meeting soon with HHS.

“Our commitment to the success of this program remains strong,” they conclude. “We believe that giving providers a small amount of additional time to complete the transition to Stage 2 is the right policy to keep the program on track.”

Organizations signing the letter include: the American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Physicians, American College of Physician Executives, America’s Essential Hospitals, American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, Association of American Medical Colleges, Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems, Catholic Health Association of the U.S., and Children’s Hospital Association.

Signatories of the letter also include: College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, Federation of American Hospitals, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, Medical Group Management Association, National Rural Health Association, Premier Healthcare Alliance and VHA Inc.

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