A coalition of 21 consumer, union and employer organizations is, in large measure, supporting the proposed meaningful use rule as written.

"The NPRM (notice of proposed rulemaking) builds a foundation for change," the Consumer Partnership for eHealth says a comment letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "It strikes the right balance between transformative and achievable. We strongly urge you to maintain this robust direction for MU and address concerns that it is too challenging by offering ample support in the form of technical and other assistance."

The proposed meaningful use criteria are achievable--with assistance from regional extension centers funded under the stimulus bill--and should not be given short shrift to other stakeholder interests, the coalition argues. "The purpose of incentive payments for MU is not to reward and thus reinforce the status quo or simply the digitization of paper health records. The role of public dollars is to accelerate the movement that is already happening in the market place and ensure that it is focused on those things that make a difference to patients and their families."

Four of the organizations in the coalition-the Center for Democracy & Technology, Pacific Business Group on Health, National Partnership for Women & Families, and SEIU--have representatives on the HIT Policy Committee. Federal officials, in large part, adopted the meaningful use criteria that the committee developed.

The comment letter, which includes recommendations for changes to the proposed criteria, is available at nationalpartnership.org/cpeh-letter.

--Joseph Goedert


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