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Industry Stakeholders Applaud Proposed Meaningful Use Flexibility

May 21, 2014
by Gabriel Perna
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Industry stakeholders are pleased with the government's proposed rule that would ease reporting requirements for meaningful use, saying it offers the flexibility providers and hospitals need to stay in the program.

The proposed rule was announced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (ONC) last night. It states that providers can use the 2011 Edition of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology (CEHRT) or a combination of 2011 and 2014 Edition CEHRT for the EHR reporting period in 2014 for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. In 2015, the rule proposes that hospitals and professionals would be required to report using 2014 Edition CEHRT.

The rule also would also extend Stage 2 through 2016 and begin Stage 3 in 2017. CMS and ONC say these changes would address concerns raised by stakeholders and will encourage the continued adoption of Certified EHR Technology.

Those who have been critical of the meaningful use program in the past, such as Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), are praising CMS for this proposed rule. Thune and other Republican senators have pressed chief administrator of the CMS, Marilyn Tavenner, R.N. and other government officials to give provider organizations a reprieve on the Stage 2 meaningful use requirements.

“Since last year, I have been calling for CMS to listen to the providers and hospitals that are facing challenges in meeting unrealistic deadlines and rules in the EHR meaningful use program. I am pleased the administration has finally listened and I look forward to working with CMS and stakeholders to ensure that transitions to electronic health records are done effectively and efficiently,” Thune said in his latest statement.

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) said it’s pleased with the announcement and proposed rule from CMS and ONC, saying it addresses the challenges many providers were facing in implementing 2014 certified edition EHR technology. “The agencies have proposed a new model for the remainder of 2014 that should go a long way toward relieving some of the time crunch eligible professionals and hospitals are experiencing, and help them continue the march toward meaningful use of EHRs and healthcare transformation,” Tom Leary, HIMSS Vice President of Government Relations, said in a statement.

Healthcare Informatics Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland got comments from the Russell P. Branzell, president and CEO of the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). Branzell told Hagland that if the government gets this NPRM [notice of proposed rule-making] passed through, it meets a significant percentage of his members’ needs for flexibility.

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