Pressure continues to mount for Congress to take legislative action to pause Stage 3 of the electronic health records meaningful use program and revise Stage 2 in a way that enables provider success.
A coalition of 111 medical societies led by the American Medical Association on Tuesday sent letters to Senate and House leaders voicing strong concerns with the Obama administration’s decision to “move ahead with implementation of Stage 3 of the Meaningful Use program despite the widespread failure of Stage 2.”
Stage 3 requirements are “inconsistent with the goal of promoting better coordinated and high quality patient care,” the letters argue, and Stage 2 has “largely been a failure, with only 12 percent of physicians successfully participating and little improvement in data exchange across care settings.”
According to the coalition, what’s needed is urgent congressional action to “refocus” the Meaningful Use program “before physicians, frustrated by the near impossibility of compliance with meaningless and ill-informed bureaucratic requirements, abandon the program completely.”
The letters describe a “morass of regulation” that has relegated physicians to the “role of data entry clerks, filling the patient record with unnecessary documentation requirements unrelated to the provision of quality care.” Further, the physician groups charge that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have relied heavily on a failed construct of Stage 2 that will guarantee continued failure in Stage 3.
Success of the Meaningful Use program “hinges on a laser-like focus on promoting interoperability and allowing innovation to flourish as vendors respond to the demands of physicians and hospitals rather than the current system where vendors must meet the ill-informed check-the-box requirements of the current program,” according to the groups.
Last month, 116 House members--including 20 Democrats--sent the Obama administration a letter urging a delay in making the Stage 3 rule final. In addition, Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) sent a letter urging the administration to immediately adopt the Stage 2 rule modifications, which they said would help doctors and hospitals to comply, and to wait until no sooner than January 1, 2017 to make final the Stage 3 rule.
“Instead of taking the time to get the Stage 3 rule right, they’ve rushed ahead with a rule against the advice of some of the nation’s leading medical institutions and physicians,” Alexander said. “Congress will carefully review this rule and has the option of fixing it through legislation or overturning it through the Congressional Review Act.”
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