Lawmakers join groups urging MU delay

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A bipartisan group of congressional leaders has joined other calls for a delay in the Meaningful Use program.

Reps. Renee Elmers (R-NC), Tom Price (R-Ga.) and David Scott (D-Ga.) are leading more than 100 other legislators in the effort.

The letter from Congress to Office of the Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shaun Donovan and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell asks for the delay to “refocus the program to better serve patients and the providers who care for them.”

The deadlines imposed by the EHR incentive program are arbitrary, the legislators say, and assert that a delay in the final rules for Stage 3 and the 2015 Edition Certification “is necessary for the proper evaluation and optimization of implemented technology to ensure the technology can ensure better quality care for all patients.”

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) offered its support for a delay. Although the organization supports the Meaningful Use program, "many hospitals and physician practices are still struggling to meet requirements under Stage 2," CHIME said in a statement. "According to data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, only 1,826 hospitals successfully attested to Stage 2 in 2014. That's just 38 percent of hospitals that registered for the program. By comparison, 4,379 hospitals successfully attested for Stage 1 at least during the past five years."

CHIME staff held a high-level briefing with administration officials last Friday detailing how a delay would give all stakeholders time to address challenges to continued success of the Meaningful Use program, according to a notice. A pause in final rulemaking for Stage 3 would give policymakers, providers and vendors time to address the barriers to interoperability.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) should also evaluate how new Medicare payment models will impact Stage 3 regulations, according to CHIME. In particular, the Merit-Based Payment System (MIPS) and Alternative Payment Models (APMs) were finalized after Stage 3 regulations were developed.

CHIME intends to "work with congressional leaders and the administration to ensure that the Meaningful Use program moves forward in a responsible way."