In a letter addressed on August 21 to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Susan Turney, M.D., president and CEO of the Englewood, Colo.-based Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), called on Secretary Sebelius to embrace a series of actions designed to ease the burden on physicians trying to meet the meaningful use requirements in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. “If the appropriate steps are not taken,” Turney wrote in the letter, “we believe physicians that have made significant investments in EHR [electronic health record] technology and successfully completed Stage 1 requirements will be unfairly subject to negative Medicare payment adjustments. Accordingly,” she wrote, “HHS should immediately institute an indefinite moratorium on penalties for physicians that successfully completed Stage 1 meaningful use requirements.”
Susan Turney, M.D.
In addition to her request for leniency on physicians who have already met the Stage 1 requirements, Turney asked Sebelius for a range of other actions, including:
> Considering the difficult circumstances of eligible professionals in small and rural clinical settings, and not requiring them to “rip and replace” existing EHRs in order to comply with the MU requirement for using certified vendor products under Stage 2.
> Extending the reporting period for Stage 2 incentives. Turney asked for a minimum of a one-year extension.
> Extending the reporting period for Stage 1 incentives, averting negative payment adjustments for physicians who have attested to Stage 1.
> Conducting a comprehensive survey of vendors, per their readiness.
> Building additional flexibility into the Stage 2 reporting requirements.
“We believe adoption of these recommendations will help ensure that the Administration’s goal of having a significant majority of our nation’s EPs adopt interoperable EHRs is kept on track and that additional fairness and flexibility is appropriately built into this important incentive program,” Turney said in her letter.