MGMA urges finalization of Stage 2 regulations

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 - Meaningful_Use

The Medical Group Management Association is urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to issue final program specifications for Meaningful Use Stage 2 so medical practices can adequately prepare.

A proposed rule outlining changes to Stage 2 was published in April, but "the delay in finalizing these much-needed modifications has caused unnecessary industry confusion and uncertainty and stalled Meaningful Use progress," according to a statement from the organization. "MGMA is very concerned that medical groups will have insufficient time to transition their software and workflow to meet the revised requirements and, as a result, we expect that many providers will be unable to attest in 2015. In light of the significantly delayed publication of the final regulation, MGMA urges CMS to extend the 2015 reporting period into the first quarter of 2016."

“Even if the final rule came out today, the window of time that CMS is leaving medical groups and vendors to adjust workflows and update systems is both unacceptable and unrealistic,” said Halee Fischer-Wright, MD, MGMA president and CEO. “Forcing groups and their EHR vendor partners to scramble in a short period of time to meet the Oct. 3 start date for the last reporting period essentially guarantees that a significant number of program participants will fail in 2015. Adding to this challenge is the fact that the industry is facing the transition to ICD-10 on Oct. 1, yet another demanding government initiative.”

The proposed modifications were designed to reenergize the program in response to steadily declining provider participation and success rates by outlining a more appropriate set of reporting requirements, including shortening the reporting period from a full year to 90 consecutive days. However, with the healthcare industry now left with just one month to complete system updates and comply with new requirements, MGMA is calling on CMS to allow medical groups the option of reporting for 2015 in the last 90 days of 2015 or into the first 90 days of 2016. For the 2016 reporting year, MGMA recommends that the agency move to a 90-day reporting period—permitting those providers who select the first 90 days of 2016 to report 2015 measures three remaining quarters to report 2016 measures.

“Without having a definitive set of program measures, and sufficient time to incorporate them into EHR software and practice workflow, medical groups simply cannot responsibly transition to the modified Stage 2 requirements without a massive drop-off in participation,” said Fischer-Wright. “Providing this flexibility will permit groups additional time to upgrade their EHRs to the revised Stage 2 specifications and test these systems to ensure that they are able to conform to program requirements while meeting the practical needs of clinicians and their patients. An extension of the 2015 reporting year is absolutely vital to continued program success.”