Senators Object To Meaningful Use Rules For E-Health Records - InformationWeek
Healthcare // Electronic Health Records
04:41 PM
[Cybersecurity] Costs, Risks, & Benefits
Feb 28, 2017
How much should your organization spend on information security? What's the potential cost of a ma ...Read More>>

Senators Object To Meaningful Use Rules For E-Health Records

Strict requirements for EHR use could kill funding incentives for doctors, hospitals, senators say.

In a rare show of bipartisanship on healthcare, 27 senators have expressed opposition to proposed federal "meaningful use" rules that hospitals and healthcare providers must comply with in order to be reimbursed for implementing electronic health records.

Mandated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the rules will determine whether a healthcare provider qualifies for the more than $20 billion in stimulus funds that the federal government plans to start paying out next year to healthcare providers who demonstrate meaningful use of EHR systems.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published the Meaningful Use Notice of Proposed Rulemaking late last year and is analyzing comments from healthcare providers and other interested parties.

In a letter to Charlene Frizzera, CMS's acting administrator, the senators cited concerns with the proposed definition of "meaningful use." They also criticized the inappropriate exclusion of most physicians working in outpatient centers and restrictions that would make hospitals that have multiple campuses eligible for only one reimbursement as measures that will financially penalize many hospitals and doctors.

"The rule proposes an all-or-nothing approach in which hospitals would be required to adopt all 23 separate EHR objectives or requirements that very few hospitals have yet been able to accomplish," the letter said. "We urge you to consider a longer transition that recognizes a practical, incremental approach to EHR adoption that rewards the efforts already underway in America's hospitals."

Senators signing the letter included Orrin Hatch (Rep.-Utah), Susan Collins (Rep.-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (Dem.-Minn.) and Patrick Leahy (Dem.-Vt.).

The letter also recommends that critical access hospitals be considered healthcare providers eligible for payments if they meet the definition of meaningful use. Additionally the senators asked CMS to broaden the scope of services it considers to be outpatient hospital services for the purpose of including them under the EHR incentives program.

"Regardless of how the ambulatory care sites are licensed or established, the care and services furnished in these settings are similar to services furnished by private physician offices in other communities that are able to attract private physicians and clearly eligible under the statute to receive HIT incentive payments," the letter states.

The senators also appealed to CMS to provide flexibility in the early years of the program, as a way to support hospitals' and physicians' efforts to adopt medical records.

"Electronic reporting of quality measures through EHRs is a highly valued goal that is not yet possible to meet. Therefore, we urge CMS to defer the automated quality reporting requirement until all measures to be collected through EHRs can be re-specified, tested, and implemented," the letter said.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on this year's Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference. This report offers the best healthcare IT advice, insight, and analysis coming out of that conference. Download the report here (registration required).

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of the Cloud Report
As the use of public cloud becomes a given, IT leaders must navigate the transition and advocate for management tools or architectures that allow them to realize the benefits they seek. Download this report to explore the issues and how to best leverage the cloud moving forward.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll