AAFP latest to call for MU changes

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The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging a "pause" in the implementation of Meaningful Use (MU) Stage 3 as well as a transformation of the entire program. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released the final rule for Stage 3 In October, which included modifications for 2015 through 2017.

Under the final rule, Stage 3 will be optional in 2017, and providers who elect to begin Stage 3 that year will be able to attest for a 90-day reporting period. It will be mandatory in 2018 and have eight reporting objectives for eligible professionals and hospitals, more than 60 percent of which require interoperability, compared with 33 percent under Stage 2.

The rule also includes a more flexible reporting period, reducing the timeframe to a 90-day period in 2015, as well as for new participants in 2016 and 2017. It also shifts the reporting period from the fiscal year to the calendar year.

In the organization’s letter, AAFP Board of Directors Chair Robert Wergin said it has “significant concern that this final rule does not allow for continued successful transformation toward the three-part aim, but rather places further obstacles in the path to this goal."

Current EHR technology “is not a good bridge to practice in a value-based payment environment," he wrote. And, AAFP is "deeply concerned" that interoperability progress made by 2018 won’t be enough to allow providers to be successful using value-based payment models.

Because of these issues, Wergin wrote that federal officials should "pause" MU to allow the healthcare industry to improve interoperability; vendors and providers to improve EHR functionality to be successful in a value-based payment model; and MU regulations to be altered to better align with upcoming MACRA regulations.

AAFP also recommended that Stage 3 be altered to focus on interoperability and support capabilities for value-based payment.