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House Republicans Say Meaningful Use Bar Set Low

October 5, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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Recently, House Republicans sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking her to suspend the payments related to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Electronic Health Record (EHR) Meaningful Use Incentive program. The House republicans say HHS is “squandering taxpayer dollars by asking little of providers in return for incentive payments.”

According to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Wally Herger (R-CA), and Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA), the Stage 2 meaningful use rules are in some ways weaker than the proposed Stage 1 regulations. The result, they say, will be a “less efficient system.”

In the letter, they say the Stage 2 rules fail to achieve comprehensive interoperability, and leave our healthcare system in silos. “More than four and a half years and two final Meaningful Use rules later, it is safe to say that we are no closer to interoperability in spite of the nearly $10 billion spent.,” the letter’s authors say. “With the bar for Meaningful Use set so low and with a focus instead on trying to pad participation rates, these challenges are predictable.  Incentive payments, particularly those funded by the Medicare trust funds and taxpayers, should be given to providers who are truly ‘meaningful users’ of EHR.”

Camp and others want HHS to increase what is expected of meaningful users. They say requiring a summary of transfer document 10 percent of the time is “insufficient.” Electronic prescribing only 50 percent of the time, they say is “woefully inadequate.” The letter also mentions the recent New York Times investigative report on coding, and how many providers may be using EHRs to abuse Medicare reimbursements.

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