The American Medical Association (AMA) is backing new legislation introduced intro Congress that aims to address many of the problems U.S. physicians have with the meaningful use program.
On July 30, Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC) introduced H.R. 3309—the Further Flexibility in HIT Reporting and Advancing Interoperability Act (or Flex-IT 2 Act)—which proposes a “delay to Stage 3 rulemaking until at least 2017 in order to give providers time to breathe and a reprieve from the unfair penalties.”
In a statement about the legislation, Ellmers continued, “Only 19 percent of providers have met Stage 2 attestation requirements—a clear sign that physicians, hospitals and healthcare providers are challenged in meeting CMS’ onerous requirements. Given this basic fact, I’m uncertain why CMS would continue to push forward with a Stage 3 rule. From my conversations with doctors back home, it is clear they are eager for relief.”
Specifically, the bill calls to:
1) Delay Stage 3 rulemaking until at least 2017, or Merit-based Incentive Payment System, (MIPS), final rules or at least 75 percent of doctors and hospitals are successful in meeting Stage 2 requirements.
2) Harmonize reporting requirements (MU, PQRS, IQR) to remove duplicative measurement and streamline requirements from CMS.
3) Institutes a 90-day reporting period for each year, regardless of stage or program experience
4) Encourages interoperability among electronic health record (EHR) systems
5) Expands hardship exemptions, as they are very narrowly defined under current regulations
In a statement of support, AMA President Steven J. Stack, M.D. said, "The AMA thanks Rep. Ellmers for sharing our deep concern with a meaningful use program that continues to move ahead without first fixing barriers faced by physicians, hospitals, vendors and patients. Under Rep. Ellmers’ leadership, federal regulations would be revised to provide greater flexibility for physicians to meet the meaningful use requirements and ensure that Stage 3 of the program is developed in step with other efforts to modernize our nation’s healthcare system."
Related to this, during a town hall meeting in Atlanta on July 20th hosted by AMA, physicians voiced their concerns about EHRs and called out policymakers. The town hall event was part of AMA's new "Break the Red Tape" initiative, which has the goal of getting policymakers to postpone finalizing the meaningful use Stage 3 regulations in order to align the policy with other programs under MIPS.