The American Medical Association (AMA) and 41 medical societies have made the same case for modifying Meaningful Use Stage 3. Steven Stack, President of the AMA, says a temporary period of reevaluation will help move the program forward and drive innovation and adoption. Pausing to reassess Stage 3 rules will not stop or delay progress with EHRs. Patients need an interoperable system that enables doctors and hospitals to share their electronic health records, but the government, doctors and hospitals need time to do it right. Additionally, vendors need time to improve on their technology in order to truly help both physicians and patients successfully meet regulations.1
Likewise, Senator Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee, and chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), proposed postponing the finalization of the Stage 3 rule for the electronic health records (EHR) Meaningful Use Stage 3 until January 1, 2017. Alexander further states the requirements should be phased in at a rate that reflects how successfully the program is being implemented.2
The pressure to postpone Stage 3 comes from a time when the proposed rules are to be reviewed and finalized by the Office of Management and Budget for review and finalization.
The proposal submitted by Senator Alexander last July reinstates a strong belief in the adoption of an EHR as integral to a more efficient system of care. Alexander explains, it does not help patients to make these massive changes fast and wrong.3 With the proposed delay, requirements would be launched in phases equal to that of the success of implementation.
Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements are too complex for the majority of eligible physicians to comply. Senator Alexander strongly recommends that federal regulators modify certain aspects of Meaningful Use over the next two years. Senator Alexander said that all hospitals and most physicians met the requirements for Stage 1, while Stage 2 requirements are so complex that only about 12 percent of eligible physicians and about 40 percent of eligible hospitals have been able to comply.4
At this point, many would not be surprised if the Meaningful Use Stage 3 delay is approved. These Senate meetings restate our opinion that Meaningful Use will be de-emphasized in coming years and that the program itself is in a state of chaos.5
For 2015, the final rule for Meaningful Use for this year has not even been published – but we wouldn’t be surprised if we receive guidance on the 2015 final rule later this week, or early next week at the latest. The fact that we’re almost at the fourth quarter of this year and the 2015 rule has not yet been finalized makes overtly evident that CMS has had trouble building consensus on the future of the Meaningful Use program, both in the short term and long term. Stay tuned for the final decision.
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