Meaningful Use: Proposed Delays
Dec. 6, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed to delay Stage 2 and Stage 3 implementation of electronic health record (EHR) meaningful use for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.
Physicians had until Oct. 1, 2014 to complete Stage 2 of meaningful use or face a 1 percent Medicare penalty. The proposed new timeline extends Stage 2 through 2016. Stage 3 was originally scheduled to take effect in 2016; instead, Stage 3 will begin in 2017. Note: Providers must complete at least two years in Stage 2 before they can begin Stage 3.
According to a CMS press release, the new proposed timeline’s benefits would be:
- More analysis of feedback from stakeholders on Stage 2 progress and outcomes;
- More available data on Stage 2 adoption and measure calculations—especially on new patient engagement measures and health information exchange objectives;
- More consideration of potential Stage 3 requirements;
- Additional time to prepare for enhanced Stage 3 requirements; and
- Ample time for developers to create and distribute certified EHR technology before Stage 3 begins and to incorporate lessons learned about usability and customization.
The delays have come as a surprise, especially after Director of ONC Office of Policy Planning Jodi Daniel announced in November, “We are very focused on making Stage 2 work,” and CMS “would have the authority to do that [delay Stage 2], but it would require a regulatory change.” Regulatory changes can take a year or more, so changes to Stage 2 were thought to be unlikely.
Your Incentives at Stake
Under the incentive programs, providers can receive up to $44,000 in extra payments from Medicare and Medicaid if they show meaningful use of a certified EHR, while eligible professionals who don’t meet the requirements will be penalized beginning in 2015.
For more information, visit the CMS web page Progress on Adoption of Electronic Health Records.