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D.C. Report: MU Requirements Addressed at HIT Hearing, Healthcare Repeal Vote Scheduled for Next Week

January 18, 2011
by Sharon Canner
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MU Requirements Addressed at HIT Hearing. Witnesses representing hospitals and physicians offered feedback earlier this week on the meaningful use requirements for the Medicare and Medicaid Incentive Program.

A familiar theme echoed by many of the hospital representatives was the challenge posed by rules on certification for the complete EHR. Said Chuck Christian, CIO of Good Samaritan Hospital (GSH), a 232-bed community hospital in rural Southwest Indiana, “ Most organizations have not implemented all of their clinical applications from a single vendor; [and] many have a heterogeneous grouping of applications.....With many vendors only seeking certification for their systems as a complete EHR, this presents a problem for those healthcare organizations (HCO) that do not own or have not implemented a single vendor complete EHR solution. The only apparent solution would be for the HCO to seek on-site/self-certification or hope that the vendor would be willing to shoulder the expense of getting each module of their EHR certified (unlikely due to the associated expense).”

Another issue addressed by witnesses was that of reporting difficulties. Joanne Sunquist, CIO at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) in Minneapolis explained that the Center’s vendor had attempted to define primary and alternative workflows and structured data elements required to support reporting on each objective and quality measure. “Organizations may or may not have implemented the system using these exact workflows,” said Sunquist.

On the physician side, Chicago-based Northwestern Memorial Physicians Group Medical Director Lyle Berkowitz observed that independent physician practices are at a disadvantage because they do not have access to resources compared with hospital-affiliated groups. For more information, check out the testimony for the two days of hearing.

Healthcare Repeal Vote Scheduled for Next Week. As originally planned, the House was set to vote on repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act this past Wednesday. Due to the tragedy in Tucson, the Congress suspended business as usual. Meanwhile, the Congress Budget Office (CBO) has published a report, preliminary analysis that shows repeal would add $230 billion to the deficit. Whether events in Tucson will have an impact on the sharp political rhetoric and repeal specifically, is an open issue at this point.

Next Week: Advocacy Corner will not publish next week as the editor will be on leave.