The American Medical Association (AMA) and 110 other medical associations have sent letters to members of the Senate and the House urging lawmakers to intervene with Stage 3 of the meaningful use program.
AMA says the letters come “in the face of new regulations that will make program requirements under Stage 3 even less achievable and more disruptive.” On Oct. 6, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the final rule for Stage 3. Most health IT leaders responded to the rule with cautious optimism, and many further believed that the required start date of 2018 for Stage 3 is too soon. Prior to the Stage 3 rule coming out, there were several instances of AMA pushing strongly to delay the rulemaking.
According to AMA, 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 letter says that while the program was built for three stages, “Stage 2 of this program has largely been a failure, with only 12 percent of physicians successfully participating and little improvement in data exchange across care settings. While CMS recently released modifications to Stage 2 to make “modest improvements, though some new requirements will cause still more physicians to fail,” the agency at the same time laid out more challenging requirements for Stage 3, the letter states.
It continues, “Rather than build on the modest improvements made to Stage 2, CMS reverted back to the same fundamental flaws in the previous version of the program by focusing heavily on measure thresholds and excessive documentation requirements rather than improving interoperability. Relying so heavily on the failed construct of Stage 2 will only guarantee continued failure in Stage 3.”
According to AMA, physicians have been pointing to the problems with the program for years, asking for remedies that would support physicians in providing the best care possible for patients. Not the least among these concerns is that innovative EHR technologies need to be developed to meet the needs of physicians’ practices and advance the sharing of patient data among the professionals who are providing their care, AMA attests.