On Sept. 28, 2015, 116 members of Congress, including eight from Pennsylvania, signed onto a bipartisan U.S. House of Representatives letter urging the Director of the Office of Management Shaun Donovanand Budget and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell not to finalize Meaningful Use (MU) Stage 3 and the accompanying 2015 certification rule. The letter urged them to instead work to refocus the program to better serve patients and providers.
The letter points out that:
- Additional time is necessary for the proper evaluation and optimization of implemented technology to ensure the technology leads to better quality care for all patients. Additional time would also give policymakers a chance to understand how the private sector performs relative to modifications proposed for 2015-2017 and provides the opportunity to evaluate the environment after regulatory changes, considering issues surrounding the Merit-Based Payment System (MIPS) and Alternative Payment Models (APMs).
- The Stage 3 rule should rely on proven technology that can support a shift to outcomes and interoperability rather than measures and objectives.
- MU Stage 3 should incentivize technology that counts how many times a provider performs an activity.
- A learning health system should incorporate the lessons learned from Stage 2 into Stage 3, which is currently not possible because a minority of providers have achieved Stage 2 and the Stage 2 modifications rule has yet to be implemented.
“While health care providers are committed to implementing EHRs, many are becoming disenchanted by the seemingly unrealistic expectations dictated by the Meaningful Use Program,” said the groups in the letter, citing that, according to CMS, an estimated 257,000 providers are currently subject to payment adjustments in the 2015 program year for failing to meet MU requirements.
“We believe the solution to address the provider community’s concerns are well within the Department’s reach and action must be taken now, as we have arrived at a pivotal time in the Program,” said the letters signors.
The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) thanks the eight Pennsylvania Congressmen that signed onto the letter:
- Honorable Brendan Boyle (D-13)
- Honorable Mike Fitzpatrick (R-8)
- Honorable Ryan Costello (R-6)
- Honorable Charlie Dent (R-15)
- Honorable Bill Shuster (R-9)
- Honorable Lou Barletta (R-11)
- Honorable Patrick Meehan (R-7)
- Honorable Mike Kelly (R-3)
PAMED leaders and staff also discussed the same concerns in recent meetings in Capitol Hill offices. PAMED will continue to be engaged at the federal level to advocate for an MU Stage 3 rule that better serves providers and their patients.
Because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has not issued the “modification rule” for the EHR MU program for 2015, the American Medical Association (AMA) is calling on the agency to create an automatic hardship exemption for physicians who did not have the opportunity to report successfully this year.