To facilitate meaningful use of electronic health records, the CMS should abandon its all-or-nothing approach to awarding financial incentives, eliminate goals and measures that don't directly apply to EHR adoption, and widen the eligibility for certain hospital-based physicians, according to a letter sent to acting CMS Administrator Charlene Frizzera. The letter was signed by the American Medical Association and 95 other state and specialty medical societies.
Doc, hospital groups press CMS on meaningful use
The 37-page letter stated that “physicians are deeply supportive and committed to incorporating well-developed EHRs into their practices,” but the “aggressive” criteria included in the proposed requirements for federal EHR-investment subsidies will deter many physicians from participating in the incentive program, which was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the stimulus law.
“Encouraging physician adoption of health IT, especially small physician practices, is critical to ensuring widespread EHR use,” the letter concluded. “Unrealistic timelines and criteria will only serve to undermine this effort.”
The Medical Group Management Association also released a letter just before the 60-day public comment period on the rule closed March 15. The CMS, drafter of the rule on meaningful use, had received more than 1,000 comments as of last week, according to a CMS spokesman.
The 43-page MGMA letter incorporated the more than 445 comments that it received from its members, and noted that the organization strongly supports the overall objective of the incentive program, but called for "substantive modification" to the proposed rule.
"We believe it is imperative to remember that the intent of ARRA was to provide a practical and achievable glide path to enable large numbers of physicians and other providers to adopt EHRs," the MGMA letter stated. "We do not believe that the legislation anticipated the onerous nature of the proposed meaningful-use criteria nor the expected high cost and decreased physician productivity associated with participation in this incentive program."
The MGMA called on removing several requirements from the first stage of the program, including performing medication reconciliation and conducting a security risk analysis. They also called for allowing more hospital-based providers to qualify for the incentives, and to extend the first stage of the program out to 2013 to allow time for software to be developed, certified, implemented and tested.
The American Hospital Association also released a comment letter yesterday to David Blumenthal, head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, while the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives and the American Academy of Family Physicians weighed in earlier.
What do you think? Write us with your comments at [email protected]. Please include your name, title and hometown.
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.