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CMS’s Andy Slavitt Says MU will End in 2016

January 12, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Although the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently stated that Stage 3 of its meaningful use program will begin as early as 2017, just this week, Andy Slavitt, acting CMS Administrator, said that might not be the case at all.

According to multiple news media reports, Slavitt dropped the news on Monday evening, Jan. 11 at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. At the conference, Slavitt reportedly said to mark March 25 as the date CMS would be providing more details on future health IT incentive programs that would focus on patient outcomes rather than using technology. Specifically, according to a Family Practice News report, Slavitt said, “The meaningful use program as it has existed will now be effectively over and replaced with something better.”  He continued, per the report, “We have to get the hearts and minds of physicians back. I think we’ve lost them.”

Slavitt seemed to double down on these sentiments on Twitter on Monday evening, and again on Tuesday, Jan. 12.

The industry has already begun to react to Slavitt’s remarks.  The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) said in a Jan. 12 statement, “We are encouraged that Acting Administrator Slavitt and CMS are open to improving the meaningful use program. It is important that we maintain momentum in digitizing healthcare. Robust IT systems are a cornerstone for achieving the Triple Aim.” The statement, from CHIME CEO and President Russell Branzell, continued, “The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, along with other reforms being pursued by CMS, aim to dramatically shift healthcare toward value-based payment. Through these changes, we’ll see greater alignment between physicians and hospitals. CHIME believes that it is essential that we create more synergy between meaningful use requirements for hospitals and physicians if we are going to fully realize the potential that health IT has in promoting better patient care across the continuum.”






CHIME’s Interim Vice President of Public Policy, Leslie Kriegstein, further told HCI that a “reoriented IT policy program, meaningful use, is indeed needed to acknowledge and accommodate the needs of the new reimbursement structure, and allow innovation to flourish.” Kriegstein says she wouldn’t be so sure that the meaningful use program is over, but rather that it “will take a new face, and be re-driven with a new focus.”


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The media hype around this notwithstanding, I don't read into actual policy pronouncements that anything is actually changing or ending so much as simply being rolled and accelerated into a new nomenclature. The coming Merit-Based Incentive Program will roll MU, PQRS, and VBP into one program. This hardly seems the same thing as ending the program.