As CMS winds down the meaningful use program, the AAFP and 33 other medical and health organizations are telling the agency it should maintain flexibility in the program's reporting requirements.
A critical preliminary step, the organizations told CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt in a March 15 letter,(2 page PDF) is to drop the requirement that physicians attest to a full year of meaningful use in 2016. Instead, CMS should continue the 90-day reporting period that was permitted during 2015.
The change is necessary, wrote the AAFP and the other organizations, because many physicians would face financial penalties under a required 365-day reporting period.
"In order to continue the momentum generated as a result of the changes made under the modified (meaningful use) stage two -- particularly since many of the rules are not expected to be finalized until much later this year -- we strongly recommend CMS announce a 90-day reporting period as soon as possible," the letter reads.
It cautions that requiring physicians to report performance measurements for an entire year would hinder efforts to prepare for the transition to new payment models outlined by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA).
Requiring 365-day reporting also would increase the likelihood that physicians would seek a hardship exemption. On top of that, physicians who are granted the exemption might have no data to report for 2017. And a year-long reporting period would not allow enough time for physician practices to make adjustments or schedule testing periods.
A shorter reporting period, however, would enable physicians to continue updating their technology and improve interoperability with other institutions. Failing to adopt a shorter reporting period would stifle attempts to adopt innovate uses of technology that CMS wants to encourage.
The letter to Slavitt also will be presented to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has scheduled a hearing on MACRA next week.
Slavitt surprised the medical community in January when he announced that the meaningful use program was winding down so it could be revised and integrated into new measurements included in MACRA payment models.
Then in February, CMS announced that physicians have until July 1 to apply for a hardship exemption to meaningful use requirements to avoid a potential 3 percent cut in Medicare payments in 2017.
Related AAFP News Coverage
Guest Editorial: The Uncertain Future of Meaningful Use
More From AAFP
Meaningful Use and Your Practice