The National Association of Public Hospitals & Health Systems has released an issue brief urging federal officials to allow for more flexibility in the meaningful use program, FierceHealthIT reports (Terry, FierceHealthIT, 5/15).
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.
In February, CMS released a proposed rule outlining requirements for hospitals and health care providers seeking to attest to Stage 2 of the meaningful use program. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT also released a proposed rule outlining standards and criteria for the certification of EHRs under Stage 2 of the meaningful use program (iHealthBeat, 5/9).
Issue Brief Details
According to the issue brief, about 97% of NAPH member facilities plan to participate in both the Medicaid and Medicare meaningful use programs. Nationwide, about 74% of all hospitals plan to participate in both programs, NAPH said.
The organization noted that its member facilities likely will face more difficulty than other hospitals in meeting the meaningful use criteria because public hospitals have limited resources and the incentive payments will cover only about 30% to 50% of EHR implementation costs.
To address the challenges facing public hospitals, NAPH recommended that CMS:
- Provide hospitals with a three-year timeframe between deadlines for Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the meaningful use program, regardless of the facility's start date in the program;
- Refrain from raising thresholds for core measures in Stage 2 of the meaningful use program until most hospitals are able to meet the Stage 1 requirements;
- Retain flexibility on menu items for Stage 2 of the meaningful use program;
- Exempt public facilities from health information exchange requirements of the meaningful use program; and
- Reconsider the Stage 2 requirement that health care providers ensure that at least 10% of patients access their EHR (FierceHealthIT, 5/15).