The AAFP refuses to back down when it comes to getting answers from CMS about its flawed meaningful use audit system.
In a recent letter(1 page PDF) to CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt, AAFP Board Chair Reid Blackwelder, M.D., of Kingsport, Tenn., warned of the Academy's "growing concerns" after receiving scathing reports from family physicians who've found themselves on the receiving end of such audits.
It has been more than three months since Blackwelder first wrote to Slavitt outlining a litany of problems with the audits; CMS' failure to respond gave Blackwelder cause to raise the stakes a little higher.
"The AAFP is concerned that auditors are causing undue hardship for family physicians," wrote Blackwelder on July 9. Auditors are pelting physicians with unreasonable and burdensome documentation requests that, when tallied, add significantly to the cost of physicians trying their best to comply with program rules, he added.
"Family physicians who have implemented and fully use electronic health records (EHRs) in the spirit of the meaningful use program should have a reasonable expectation that the accompanying financial subsidy would help offset the implementation costs and associated initial decrease in practice productivity," said Blackwelder.
Since April, family physicians have swamped the AAFP with detailed examples of "the disruptive and unhelpful nature of the audit process," he added, and the AAFP would be more than happy to share a synopsis of those concerns with CMS.
For instance, AAFP members have documented frustrating instances of when they’ve
- waited for correspondence from auditors that was long past due,
- experienced a complete lack of follow-up by auditors after an audit was instigated,
- seen no end date in sight to audits that drag on and on, and
- endured continuing and repetitive correspondence from auditors when that communication served only to prolong the audit process.
In short, member accounts have convinced the AAFP that auditors are saddling physicians with an enormous administrative burden.
Blackwelder told Slavitt that CMS needed to help family physicians "understand the value" of meaningful use audits and offer them assurances that they and their practices were not being unfairly "targeted" for review.
A simple step in the right direction would be prompt and straightforward answers from CMS to three questions, said Blackwelder. Family physicians deserve to know
- the percentage of eligible professionals undergoing audits,
- the overall pass/fail rate of completed audits and
- details outlining the audit selection process.
Furthermore, on behalf of all family physicians participating in the meaningful use program, Blackwelder called on Slavitt to publicly release the answers to the above questions.
"We request immediate attention to these concerns," along with a follow-up meeting to hash out solutions to these problems, concluded Blackwelder.
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