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CMS: 257K EPs Hit With MU Penalties; AMA Calls the Number “Dismal”

December 18, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Approximately 257,000 eligible professionals will face penalties under the meaningful use program in 2015 for failing to meet requirements of the EHR incentive program, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The American Medical Association (AMA) released a statement on Dec. 17 saying that it is “appalled” by the CMS announcement that more than 50 percent of eligible professionals will face penalties under the meaningful use program in 2015, and that the number is even worse than the association had anticipated.

In a statement, Steven Stack, M.D., president-elect of the physician-based AMA, wrote that “The meaningful use program was intended to increase physician use of technology to help improve care and efficiency. Unfortunately, the strict set of one-size-fits-all requirements is failing physicians and their patients. They are hindering participation in the program, forcing physicians to purchase expensive electronic health records (EHRs) with poor usability that disrupts workflow, creates significant frustrations and interferes with patient care, and imposes an administrative burden.”

Stack continued, "In light of the dismal number of eligible professionals meeting meaningful use, we hope that the administration will now move forward with the solutions we put forth in our blueprint to make the program more successful and better enable physicians to provide quality care for their patients."

For eligible professionals, the penalty will begin on Jan. 1. According to CMS, slightly more than 200 eligible hospitals also received penalties for not meeting meaningful use standards. Those penalties began to take effect Oct. 1.

“The penalties physicians are facing under the meaningful use program are part of a regulatory tsunami facing physicians, apart from the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, that could include cuts from the physician quality reporting system (PQRS), the value-based modifier program (VBM) and the sequester, further destabilizing physician practices and creating a disincentive to see Medicare patients, the AMA letter stated. According to the administration, only half of eligible physicians participated in PQRS in 2013, meaning many will incur penalties from both the meaningful use and PQRS programs. The overlapping and often conflicting patchwork of laws and regulations must be fixed and aligned to ensure physicians are able to move to innovative payment and delivery models that could improve the quality of care."



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