For the second time in recent weeks, multiple healthcare industry groups have written a letter to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) urging the department to issue a final rule for the modifications to the meaningful use program from 2015-2017.
In April, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a new proposed rule to align meaningful use Stage 1 and Stage 2 objectives and measures with the long-term proposals for Stage 3. The proposed rule would streamline reporting requirements and would shorten Medicare and Medicaid meaningful use attestation for eligible professionals and hospitals to a 90-day period in 2015. Comments for that proposed rule were due on June 15.
In a recent letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and others, they said, “The October 3rd deadline to begin the final possible 90-day reporting period in calendar year 2015 is fast-approaching. If providers do not receive the Final Rule shortly, it will be very difficult to make workflow adjustments in a timely manner to meet programmatic deadlines and facilitate meaningful use tracking and reporting.”
Now, other hospital and health system-represented groups, including the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the Premier healthcare Alliance, have also written to HHS. In their letter, they say, “The rule is past due, given that it will affect the current program year for meaningful use. Indeed, under current rules, meaningful use applies to fiscal year performance for hospitals. FY 2015 ends on Sept. 30 – fewer than 60 days from now. We recognize that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also proposed to change meaningful use reporting for hospitals from a fiscal to a calendar year. Under that policy, the last possible reporting period would begin on Oct. 3. However, the proposed rule also allowed other reporting periods for earlier dates in FY 2015. Even if reporting is moved to a calendar year, hospitals need the certainty of a final rule now to determine the best reporting period to choose and begin the process of reviewing performance and ensuring they have met all of the revised requirements.”
The letter adds that many meaningful use requirements such as the proposed changes to the summary of care, patient electronic access and secure messaging objectives, have been very difficult to meet given current technology and infrastructure for exchange. “Other proposed changes, such as making e-prescribing of discharge medications mandatory or adding new public health reporting measures, however, would make meeting Stage 2 more difficult. And, given the delay in the release of a final rule, they would be virtually impossible for hospitals to accommodate,” it says.