AMA wants CMS to change "all-or-nothing" approach to Meaningful Use

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 - Health IT Security

The American Medical Association (AMA) is warning the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that unless it changes its “all or nothing” approach to Meaningful Use (MU), providers will continue to find the program “overly burdensome” and could further dissuade them from moving into a digitized environment.

This warning came in a letter signed by James Madara, MD, executive vice president and CEO of the AMA, in response to the proposed rule that would provide eligible professionals, eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals more flexibility in how they use certified EHR technology (CEHRT) to meet the program's requirements.

According to the AMA, the proposed rule doesn’t go far enough.

While the AMA “appreciates” the fact that the proposed rule recognizes the technological challenges facing MU participants, “the rule fails to acknowledge the chief problem with the program’s design—the ‘all or nothing’ approach used to evaluate participants,” Madara wrote. “Physicians will continue to see the MU program as overly burdensome until this policy is removed or made more flexible.”

Madera went on to write that the AMA continues to be troubled that providers are deemed to have failed, even if they have purchased EHRs, updated practice workflows and met the majority of MU program requirements. He requested that CMS remove its existing pass-fail approach and replace it with a 75 percent pass rate, and allow physicians who have meet at least 50 percent of requirements to avoid financial penalties.

The AMA also suggests that the relief provided in the proposed rule enabling attestation using version 2011 criteria or a version of old and new software is “limited.”

“While we appreciate that the rule allows physicians who were scheduled to move to Stage 2 to stay in Stage 1 another year, we are concerned that this proposal is aimed at helping the earliest adopters—those physicians and hospitals that are the most experienced and advanced with respect to the MU program,” Madara wrote, adding that the one-year exception won’t really help providers who are still struggling with the early stages of the program.

The AMA also expressed its dismay that the proposed rule doesn’t align the MU and Physician Quality Reporting System components, which means physicians are still forced to report twice to avoid penalties.

And finally, the AMA argued that the rule was published too late to provide any significant relief. “We therefore reiterate our earlier request that CMS extend the hardship deadline until 30 days after the final rule is published to allow more time for physicians to understand the program requirements and seek an exemption if necessary.”