House Members Push for Stage 3 Delay in Letter to HHS, OMB | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

House Members Push for Stage 3 Delay in Letter to HHS, OMB

September 29, 2015
by Rajiv Leventhal
| Reprints
Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and 115 other members of the House have written and signed a letter urging Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and  Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) administrators to delay the final rulemaking for Stage 3 of the meaningful use program. 
 
This letter, led by Ellmers, Tom Price, M.D. (R-GA), and David Scott (D-GA) is the latest push from Congress to delay Stage 3. Recently, during a Senate hearing, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chairman of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, once again pushed for a delay himself, citing the need to push back the making of a final rule until Jan. 1, 2017 due to physicians telling him they are “terrified” of the impending stage of the program. 
 
This past summer, it was Ellmers herself who introduced H.R. 3309—the Further Flexibility in HIT Reporting and Advancing Interoperability Act (or Flex-IT 2 Act)—which proposed, among other things, to delay Stage 3 rulemaking until at least 2017, or until Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) final rules, or until at least 75 percent of doctors and hospitals are successful in meeting Stage 2 requirements. Meanwhile, industry stakeholder groups, some of whom met with high-level administration officials last week, have also pushed for a Stage 3 delay, despite the rule being sent to OMB for review earlier this month.
 
In a statement released with the letter, Ellmers said, “In my ongoing conversations with those working to comply with meaningful use standards and deadlines, there is a clear consensus among healthcare providers: they are concerned with how they will meet existing mandates of the meaningful use program, many are frustrated by the continued onslaught of regulatory changes and most are desperate for relief.”
 
She continued, "In leading this letter with my colleagues and acquiring a total of 116 signatories, we send a straightforward message to the primary agencies tasked with overseeing implementation of the meaningful use program. It’s time that we focus on interoperability instead of rulemaking to ensure that these products work for our nation’s providers.  If the administration dives into Stage 3 prematurely, we only stand to aggravate providers and vendors who have already experienced ample challenges in meeting attestation deadlines.” 
 
The letter, addressed to OMB Director Shaun Donovan and HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell, more specifically reads, "Unfortunately, the proposed Stage 3 rule...exacerbates current problematic policies of Stage 2. We should incentivize technology that enables interoperability and improves health outcomes rather than incentivizing technology that counts how many times a provider performs an activity. The additional time would also give policymakers a chance to understand how the private sector performs relative to modifications proposed for program years 2015 to 2017. Taking time to get it right now will certainly pay dividends in the future."  
 
It continues..."While healthcare providers are committed to implementing EHRs, many are becoming disenchanted by the seemingly unrealistic expectations dictated by the meaningful use program. Unfortunately, the frustrations voiced by providers and policymakers regarding the systems deployed in over 80 percent of hospitals and physician offices are real.  According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an estimated 257,000 providers are currently subject to payment adjustments in the 2015 program year for failing to meet the meaningful use program’s requirements. We believe this signals a failure that is indicative of issues outside the hands of health care providers. We believe the solutions to address the provider community’s concerns are well within the Department’s reach and action must be taken now, as we have arrived at a pivotal time in the program."
 

Get the latest information on Meaningful Use and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More

Topics

News

Former Health IT Head in San Diego County Charged with Defrauding Provider out of $800K

The ex-health IT director at North County Health Services, a San Diego County-based healthcare service provider, has been charged with spearheading fraudulent operations that cost the organization $800,000.

Allscripts Touts 1 Billion API Shares in 2017

Officials from Chicago-based health IT vendor Allscripts have attested that the company has reached a new milestone— one billion application programming interface (API) data exchange transactions in 2017.

Dignity Health, CHI Merging to Form New Catholic Health System

Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), based in Englewood, Colorado, and San Francisco-based Dignity Health officially announced they are merging and have signed a definitive agreement to combine ministries and create a new, nonprofit Catholic health system.

HHS Announces Winning Solutions in Opioid Code-a-Thon

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) hosted this week a first-of-its-kind two-day Code-a-Thon to use data and technology to develop new solutions to address the opioid epidemic.

In GAO Report, More Concern over VA VistA Modernization Project

A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report is calling into question the more than $1 billion that has been spent to modernize the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) health IT system.

Lawmakers Introduce Legislation Aimed at Improving Medicare ACO Program

U.S. Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) have introduced H.R. 4580, the ACO Improvement Act of 2017 that makes changes to the Medicare accountable care organization (ACO) program.