The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society has made a number of near-term meaningful use EHR recommendations to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to help alleviate some of the timeline issues around Stage 2 implementation.
In a March 31 letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, HIMSS stated that eligible professionals and eligible hospitals are increasingly citing timeline and implementation challenges in preparing for Stage 2. To address these issues, HIMSS offered several recommendations to CMS "designed to maximize the number of EPs and EHs successfully attesting to the programs requirements using a 2014 certified EHR, and keep our nation on the path toward health care transformation."
HIMSS "strongly" recommended that CMS do the following:
* Extend Year 1 of the MU Stage 2 attestation period through April 2015 and June 2015 for EHs and EPs, respectively.
* CMS establish itself as the unequivocal Single Source of Truth on program requirements.
* Simplify Clinical Quality Measure requirements until standards and processes can support robust electronic reporting.
* Launch association collaboration to translate program requirements.
HIMSS had previously called on CMS to accept and process hardship exemption applications before the final filing deadlines--April 1, 2014 for EHs and July 1, 2014 for EPs--so they can have a sense of whether the exception parameters are applicable for their specific circumstances. Lack of infrastructure and unforeseen or uncontrollable circumstances are not the only criteria CMS will consider in granting hardship exemptions to healthcare providers who are struggling to comply with Stage 2 requirements. They have also included "2014 EHR vendor issues" as an acceptable reason.
Last month, Republican Senators asked CMS for details on its new plan to grant hardship exemptions to healthcare providers who are struggling to comply with Stage 2 EHR meaningful use requirements. At HIMSS14, CMS announced the availability of the hardship exemptions during 2014, but GOP lawmakers are seeking clarification on the qualification criteria.
The six senators also expressed their disappointment with CMS' decision. Despite the overwhelming outpouring of concern about the Stage 2 regulations, you announced in a speech last week that the timing of Stage 2 will not change," wrote the senators. "Instead, you said that hardship exceptions will be available. We were disappointed to hear this announcement, even more so because of the lack of clarity about how the exceptions will be administered."
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