HIT Policy Committee Inches Towards Stage 2 MU Timeline Agreement. During a meeting held Wednesday in Washington, a federal advisory panel debated measures and timing options for Stage 2 Meaningful Use. Building on the heels of a Meaningful Use Workgroup gathering Tuesday, the Health IT Policy Committee (HITPC) wrestled with proposed recommendations (.ppt) to increase minimum thresholds for some measures of Meaningful Use; moving other measures from menu to core; and in other areas, incorporating all new measures for Stage 2. Apart from the specific focus on individual measures for Stage 2, a broader debate flared when workgroup chair Paul Tang outlined three options for Stage 2 timing. The workgroup presented the HITPC with a rubric, scoring three options against select outcomes. The options presented were: (1) stay the course; (2) require a 90-day reporting period instead of one year for Stage 2 attestation; and (3) delay Stage 2 by one year. During the MU workgroup, Option 3 emerged as the clear favorite, but it ran into some resistance at the full HITPC meeting.
Patient advocates worried that a delay would hinder MU progress, as those attesting in 2011 would be eligible for three payments for Stage 1 certification. Others said a delay in Stage 2 gives early adopters an extra year, but does little to alleviate timing pressures for the bulk of providers who will attest in 2012. Another option offered by the HITPC was to simply lessen Stage 2 requirements that were deemed troublesome, rather than push the whole stage back a year. The MU workgroup will present final draft recommendations to HITPC on June 8 with final Stage 2 MU recommendations going to ONC and CMS later that same month.
CHIME Among First To Submit Comments On CMS Plan For Accountable Care. Earlier this week CHIME became one of the first healthcare groups to voice concerns to CMS regarding proposed rules for accountable care organizations (ACOs). In its comments, CHIME sought to address problems surrounding data opt-out provisions, meaningful use alignment, and proposed performance measures, among other health IT issues. CHIME said that “allowing ACO patients the ability to opt-out of data sharing, while maintaining their ability to see the primary care physician participating in an ACO, contraindicates efforts to provide accountable care.” Further, CHIME suggested that if a patient wishes to opt-out of claims data sharing, he or she should be required to see a primary care physician (PCP) not affiliated with an ACO. Picking up on the proposed quality measures and other governance issues, the American Medical Group Association (AMGA) issued similar concerns the day after CHIME.
The comment period closes June 6 and multiple groups are expected to raise similar concerns, but CMS says they are aware of potential issues related to patient information sharing and are interested in collecting ideas and suggestions to make the rules better. Currently, the agency is hosting a series of calls (.pdf) with providers and other interested participants to understand how the Shared Savings Program could be best implemented. To read CHIME’s full comments, click here (.pdf)