ONC Adamant Meaningful Use Timeline Will Stay On Track

A delay in the start date of stage 2 of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ “meaningful use” EHR Incentive Program is not currently in the works, according to a federal healthcare official, despite some concerns from lawmakers and providers.

Farzad Mostashari, MD, the national coordinator for health information technology told members of the Senate Finance Committee during a July 7 hearing that delaying the launch of stage 2 “would stall progress that’s been hard fought.” The stage 2 start date for hospitals is in October 2013 and January of 2014 for physicians.

Senators from both parties relayed the frustrations expressed by rural healthcare providers that struggled to meet stage 1 requirements and are worried about stage 2. Sen. Orin Hatch (R-UT) echoed concerns about interoperability requirements and rural providers’ abilities to comply with quality measure outcomes.

“The federal government cannot spend money on programs that do not yield results. It seems we should have the opportunity to push the pause button to see if the program is working. We should hold providers and vendors to high standards. Meaningful use may have set the bar too low,” Hatch said.

Mostashari pushed back, saying the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are committed to working with rural providers, adding that any delay could shift momentum.

“We meet with rural providers and we have been quite open with the rural community in how we can help them achieve success and not accept they are going to be further behind. [We] would rather see rural hospitals keep up rather than acknowledge they’ll be behind,” Mostashari said.

 

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