EMR Incentives Derailed?

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Lawmakers Urge HHS To Halt Payments for EHR Incentive Program

ln a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and GOP chairs of several House health subcommittees asked HHS to suspend incentive payments for Stage 2 of the meaningful use program,Modern Healthcare 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.

Letter Details

The letter charges that nearly $10 billion might have been wasted because the rules under Stage 2 of the meaningful use program — created by CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology — are “weaker” than the rules for Stage 1.

The letter specifically states that certain standards in Stage 2 are either “insufficient” or “woefully inadequate,” including requirements that:

  • A summary transfer be provided in electronic format only 10% of the time;
  • Radiology and laboratory orders be electronic 30% of the time; and
  • Medication reconciliation and electronic prescribing take place 50% of the time.

According to CMS data, the EHR incentive program as of June 2012 has disbursed $7.1 billion. Meanwhile, ONC has received $2 billion through the federal stimulus package for health IT programs (Zigmond/Conn, Modern Healthcare, 10/4).

ONC Response

During a forum in Chicago on Thursday, National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari defended the stage 2 rules and downplayed the lawmakers’ request, noting that the period before a presidential election is known as “the silly season.”

Mostashari noted that the requested changes would require congressional and presidential approval (Cadet, Cardiovascular



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