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AMA Delegates Adopt Policies on Prescription Drug Monitoring and Meaningful Use

November 18, 2015
by Heather Landi
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The American Medical Association’s (AMA) policy-making House of Delegates at its interim meeting yesterday adopted a number of health IT-related policies, including a policy aimed at streamlining meaningful use requirements.

Recently, AMA and 110 other medical associations have urged Congressional leaders to intervene with Stage 3 of the meaningful use program. As previously reported in Healthcare Informatics, the AMA, in a letter to members of the Senate and the House, stated that unless lawmakers intervene in the federal electronic health record (EHR) meaningful use program, physicians—who are frustrated by the “near impossibility of compliance with meaningless and ill-informed bureaucratic requirements”—likely will abandon the program completely. The letters point out that “CMS has continued to layer requirement on top of requirement, usually without any real understanding of the way healthcare is delivered at the exam room level.”

The policy adopted by the AMA House of Delegates seeks revisions to quality standards and MU requirements to make them more streamlined, usable and less burdensome. In a release, the AMA stated that it had adopted a policy aimed at accelerating the development and adoption of “universal and enforceable EHR interoperability standards” for all vendors before the implementation of the Medicare Incentive Based Payment (MIPs). 

“The AMA wants the Meaningful Use program to succeed, but swift Congressional action is needed to refocus the goals of the program on promoting better coordinated and high-quality patient care instead of burdensome, administrative tasks for physicians,” AMA Immediate Past Chair Barbara McAneny, M.D., said in a statement.

According to the group’s AMA Wire news source, the new policy also states that AMA will submit a report to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the ONC and CMS concerning shortcomings in EHR interoperability, placing special emphasis on requiring vendors to provide systems that comply with interoperability standards as a basic requirement for certification. The AMA also will take a stance that hospitals and health systems be prevented from requiring specific brands of EHRs for affiliated but independent physicians and will also advocate that sponsoring institutions providing EHRs to physician practices provide data access to physicians if they withdraw support of EHR sponsorship.

AMA, the nation’s largest physician association, also encouraged its members to use its BreaktheRedTape.org site to send messages to Congressional members expressing that Stage 3, now a final rule in public-comment period, creates a costly burden and limits innovation.

Addressing the nation’s opioid epidemic, the AMA delegates also adopted a separate policy statement in support of developing model state legislation that will help increase physician registration and use of state-based prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP).

According to the AMA release, the policy adopted yesterday calls on the federal government to delay its meaningful use program” until real-time integration between EHRs and PDMPs is achieved and electronic prescribing of schedule II and III drugs is available for the country’s MU certified EHRs.”

“The AMA is committed to continuing its work with the administration and Congress as well as state leaders on efforts that will modernize and fully fund PDMPs,” AMA board member Patrice Harris, M.D., said. “As part of our ongoing work with the Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse, we will continue to work together with physicians and health care professionals on efforts to help bring an end to our country’s opioid crisis.”

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