In a letter addressed to Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, 17 senators lead by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) pushing for a one year extension to the Stage 2 meaningful use timeline for providers.
3 Areas of Concern
In the letter, the senators identified three key problems with the current timeline for Stage 2 Meaningful Use:
1. Regulatory structure of the program has created significant time pressure in 2014 and progressing to Stage 2 may not be feasible for all participants. In just one year, over 500k hospitals and physicians are required to meet meaningful use by the end of 2014 to be eligible for incentive payments. The time pressure raises questions about whether such a short period for Stage 2 is in the best long-term interest of the program.
2. The onset of Stage 2 may further widen the digital divide for small and rural providers who lack resources of large practices and may not be vendors’ top priorities. Simply receiving the software update does not help MU requirements for providers; however, they also need assistance learning how to use the technology and time to address achieving new standards of meaningful use.
3. Artificially aggressive Stage 2 timeline may have serious unintended consequences such as stifling innovation and increasing medical errors. Innovation in HIT could be stifled since vendors do not have the time to introduce flexibility into their EHRs. This can cause medical errors to increase due to rushing through upgrades that could cause errors or patient safety problems.
The senators did preface that they are not suggesting a delay of Stage 2 and urges providers who are ready to transition to Stage 2 should do so to receive incentive payments in 2014 and 2015 with current policy. However, providers that are not ready should have a one year extension before they attest for Stage 2 meaningful use.
The senators have requested a response from HHS Secretary Sebelius by October 8, 2013.
Click here to read the letter.