HHS certainly backed up the old regulatory dump truck and pulled the lever, spilling out 1,354 pages of legalese in three separate health information technology-related rules.
One was the CMS' long awaited Stage 2 meaningful-use final rule affecting providers, running a sumo-sized 672 pages.
Another was a companion rule from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, coming in at a hefty 474 pages and targeting IT developers on certification criteria for electronic health-record systems.
Finally, the third rule, also from the CMS and weighing in at a comparatively svelte heavyweight 208 pages, does three things. It pushes back to 2014 the compliance deadline for ICD-10, tweaks an earlier rule on the national provider identifiers, and—after 16 years—establishes a set of health plan identification numbers first called for in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
Like many of you, I'll be spending the weekend poring over the new rules, and I'll be giving you my take on them in the coming weeks.
A few things come to mind right now, one being that perhaps the feds got a few things right, based on the mixed criticism that quickly emanated from healthcare industry leaders tracking—and lobbying—the federal rulemakers.
For example, the American Hospital Association quickly fired off a summary, praising the feds and the CMS in particular for "a shorter meaningful-use reporting period for 2014," but quickly adding expression of disappointment "that this rule sets an unrealistic date by which hospitals must achieve the initial meaningful-use requirements to avoid penalties." The AHA also said that CMS "complicated the reporting of clinical quality measures and added to the meaningful use objectives, creating significant new burdens."