Policy Panel Endorses Proposal To Delay Stage 2 of Meaningful Use

On Wednesday, the Health IT Policy Committee endorsed a recommendation to delay by one year Stage 2 of the meaningful use program for health care providers attesting to Stage 1 this year, Government Health IT reports.

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

The Policy Committee voted to endorse the proposed delay of Stage 2, which was part of recommendations from the panel's meaningful use work group.

Details of the Proposed Delay

According to the recommendation, Stage 1 attestation would continue through 2013, Stage 2 would start in 2014 and Stage 3 would start in 2015. The revised timeline would affect only health care providers who attest to achieving Stage 1 this year.

Delaying the Stage 2 attestation until 2014 aims to avoid problems that could result from publishing the Stage 2 final rule just months before the health care provider reporting period starts.

Paul Tang -- vice chair of the Policy Committee and chair of the meaningful use work group -- said the original 2013 deadline for Stage 2 would not give EHR vendors enough time to design, develop and test new functionality. It also would not give health care providers enough time to implement and report measures for a year, according to Tang (Mosquera, Government Health IT, 6/8).

Reaction to the Recommendations

Judith Faulkner -- founder and CEO of EHR vendor Epic Systems -- expressed concern over the proposed 2014 start date. She said, "If we don't know how long it will take vendors to do the work, we don't know how long it will take for [health care] providers to get up and running."

Neil Calman -- president and CEO of the Institute for Family Health -- voiced concern about delaying Stage 2. Calman said, "If we're not accelerating the process, then we don't need to put all these [incentive] dollars on the table" (Manos, Healthcare IT News, 6/8).

Paul Egerman -- a health IT entrepreneur and member of the Policy Committee -- asked, "How will this impact Stage 3?" He added, "If you delay Stage 2 by one year, then you'll probably delay Stage 3 by one year" (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 6/9).

Recommendations Not Final

Tang reiterated that the recommendations are not set in stone (Healthcare IT News, 6/8).

The recommendations will be sent to National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari, who will collaborate on final rules with CMS (Modern Healthcare, 6/9).

CMS is expected to issue a final rule on Stage 2 by June 2012 (Healthcare IT News, 6/8).

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