Right Now

Today, 17 Senators sent a letter to HHS requesting an extension of Stage 2 for providers and hospitals that need it, while still abiding by the statutory authority they have to make incentive payments only through 2016. 

In recent months, several major health information technology stakeholders, such as CHIME, AHA, and AMA, have asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for additional time to comply with “Stage 2” of the Meaningful Use incentive program.  The Senators expressed their desire for providers who are ready to attest to Stage 2 in 2014 to do so, but noted concern about the timing bottleneck that is occurring in 2014 and the growing digital divide between urban and rural areas. 

In the letter, the Senators encourage HHS to keep pressure on vendors to continue to promote interoperability.  The Senators note Stage 2 should be itself be meaningful, given the data about providers who dropping out of the meaningful use program.  Otherwise, the more that providers opt not to continue in the program, the greater risk there is that wide-spread adoption of health IT and interoperability, will not be accomplished – which would jeopardize over $30 billion in HITECH Act funds. 

In 2014, over 500,000 hospitals and physicians will be required to upgrade their existing technology to demonstrate new standards of “meaningful use” in order to be eligible for the corresponding incentive payments.  Vendors are under tremendous time pressure to ensure their products are certified and have sufficient time to upgrade their products for each client.  But simply installing updated software is only the beginning of a lengthy process to satisfy Stage 2 attestation requirements.  

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