Although CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology issued the final rule(www.cms.gov) implementing meaningful use (MU) stage three of the Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record incentive programs this month, there's still time for Congress to hit the brakes.
The AAFP has built a Speak Out tool to help family physicians demand that their representatives do just that. More than 1,900 Academy members have called for a pause in MU stage three through the Speak Out already. Their messages can be expected to find an attentive audience in Washington, where senators and more than 100 House members had asked for a delay just before the final stage three rule was issued.
The message to legislators spells out the fact that MU stage three requirements make it more difficult for physicians to maintain the high standards their patients expect. If allowed to stand, the requirements will impose "significant financial strains" on practices without doing much to improve the quality of patient care.
"The meaningful use program has departed from its original goals and has devolved into a clunky and complicated process, undermined by interoperability, growing administrative burdens and unrealistic incentive requirements," reads the message to legislators.
Already, the number of physicians who have attested to MU has fallen dramatically, the message tells legislators. Fewer than 10 percent of physicians have attested to stage two, and 43 percent will face a penalty in 2015.
To keep from driving even more physicians from the program, Congress must pass legislation to delay MU stage three until it is refocused to help physicians improve their care for patients.
"Today, we find ourselves at a pivotal point in the health care transformation process," reads the message to legislators, "and it is essential that we make choices that facilitate transformation and avoid those that present obstacles."
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House Bill Aims to Ease Meaningful Use Burdens