Skip to content Skip to navigation

Washington Debrief: Senators Press HHS for Details on MU Hardship Plan

March 10, 2014
by Jeff Smith, Senior Director of Federal Affairs
| Reprints
Jeff Smith, Senior Director of Federal Affairs

Top News

Senate Letter Presses for Expanded MU Hardship Exception Details

Key Takeaway: Six senators sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding plans to expand Meaningful Use hardship exceptions, asking for details of the expanded criteria in lieu of an extension to the 2014 timeline for Meaningful Use.

Why it Matters: While far from being a political football, congressional scrutiny continues to mount over federal management of health IT policies. Criticism from Congress over health IT policy will likely gain steam heading into spring and summer as lawmakers fill hearing dockets.

Last week Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) sent a letter to the Secretary regarding HHS’ announcement to expand Meaningful Use hardship exceptions, demanding details of the expanded criteria in lieu of an extension to the 2014 timeline for Meaningful Use.

The Senators behind the "Reboot Report" last April have continued to stay engaged in the Meaningful Use conversation. Their original report called for a pause in the program to evaluate Stage 1 and apply lessons learned toward further stages.

After meeting with industry stakeholders, they released a letter signed by 17 Senators calling for an extension to the attestation deadlines in 2014 (for hospitals and providers in Stage 1 or Stage 2) because of the burden of adopting 2014 edition certified EHR technology.

Recognizing the competing priorities of ICD-10, Meaningful Use and other healthcare programs in 2014, these Senators are seeking details about the relief promised to hospitals and providers through the expansion of the hardship exceptions criteria to confirm that this action is sufficient to keep the MU program healthy.


FCC Launches New Healthcare Initiative

Key Takeaway: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is renewing efforts to ensure that healthcare technology is broadly deployed using high-speed, reliable Internet services.

Why it Matters: A new task force, called CONNECT2HEALTH, will identify regulatory barriers and incentives to build more robust telehealth, mhealth and telemedicine deployments in rural, remote and underserved inner cities.

In an announcement made last week, newly anointed FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced a new initiative and a point person to lead the effort. Michele Ellison will serve as the Chair of the Task Force called CONNECT2HEALTH. The role of the task force will be to “leverage all available technologies to ensure that advanced healthcare solutions are readily accessible to all Americans, from rural and remote areas to underserved inner cities,” the Commission said.

The task force is expected to collaborate with the FCC’s Director of Health Care Initiatives and the Chiefs of the Wireline and Wireless Bureaus and Office of Engineering and Technology.

Legislation and Politics

House Reps Call for More Attention to Health Disparities, Standards for Data Collection