AHA Says Meaningful Use Program Might Be Overly Ambitious

On Monday, the American Hospital Association sent a letter to CMS stating that the meaningful use program might be too ambitious and that it might not achieve its goals, Bloomberg reports.

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

AHA Letter Details

In the letter, Rick Pollack -- executive vice president of AHA -- wrote that more than 80% of hospitals have not been able to meet the Stage 1 requirements for the meaningful use program, partly because of "the high bar set and market factors, such as accelerating costs and limited vendor capacity" (Wayne, Bloomberg, 4/30).

Pollack added that the Stage 2 meaningful use requirements "raise the bar too high and are not feasible for the majority of hospitals to achieve" (Manos, Healthcare IT News, 5/1).

In addition, Pollack wrote that hospitals are "particularly concerned" about a requirement that they allow patients to electronically view and download their health records. Pollack said the requirement "is not feasible as proposed, raises significant security issues and goes well beyond current technical capacity" of hospitals (Bloomberg, 4/30).

To make it easier for health care providers to meet the requirements of the meaningful use program, AHA recommended that CMS:

  • Establish a 90-day reporting period for the first year of Stage 2 and subsequent stages of the meaningful use program; and
  • Expand the length of the meaningful program by allowing each stage to last for three years (Healthcare IT News, 5/1).

Letter From Rep. Ellmers

In related news, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) -- chair of the House Small Business Committee's health care subcommittee -- has sent a letter on behalf of small physician practices urging CMS to make certain changes to the meaningful use program (Bloomberg, 4/30).

Ellmers called for CMS to grant "hardship exemptions" to small physician practices and doctors nearing retirement so they would not face financial penalties for failing to demonstrate meaningful use of EHR systems.

She wrote, "Many of these physicians simply do not and will not have the resources to purchase and maintain health IT systems" (Millman, "Pulse," Politico, 5/1).

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