The Stage 2 criteria are scheduled to kick in Oct. 1 for hospitals and Jan. 1 for physicians and other eligible professionals.
The senators said “the current time schedule for Stage 2 may further widen the digital divide for small and rural providers who lack the resources of large practices and may not be vendors' top priorities. This time pressure has raised questions about whether such a short period for Stage 2 is in the best long-term interest of the program. In order to achieve interoperability, it is critical that Stage 2 be as successful as possible.”
A news release by two of the signatories, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, says that vendors “are under tremendous time pressures to ensure their products are certified for the 2014 criteria and have sufficient time to upgrade their products for each hospital or physician client(s).”
Last week, Judith Faulkner, founder and CEO of Epic Systems, a developer of EHRs for hospitals and ambulatory-care practices, called on attendees at the company's annual user's group meeting, to ask for “breathing time” before adoption of new meaningful-use criteria.
The start date for Stage 2 has already been pushed back one year.
Joining Thune and Alexander in their letter were Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn