When CMS and ONC published the final rule last week granting additional flexibility for meeting Meaningful Use requirements in 2014, they failed to address a major issue, according to CHIME.
The final rule will extend Stage 2 through 2016 for certain providers, and will push back Stage 3 until 2017. It will also grant providers an extra year to use 2011 certified EHR technology. Where it falls short, some believe, is in failing to grant a shorter reporting period for 2015, which begins October 1.
“CHIME is deeply disappointed in the decision made by CMS and ONC to require 365-days of EHR reporting in 2015,” said President and CEO Russ Branzell in a statement. “This single provision has severely muted the positive impacts of this final rule. Further, it has all but ensured that industry struggles will continue well beyond 2014.”
According to CHIME, nearly 85 percent of eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals will be required to meet Stage 2 requirements in 2015. However, most hospitals who opt for the extended deadline will no longer be on track to meet Stage 2 measures next month, meaning that the penalties avoided in 2014 will come in 2015, “and millions of dollars will be lost due to misguided government timelines.”
CHIME’s recommendation to give providers the option of reporting any three-month quarter EHR reporting period in 2015 “would have assuaged industry concerns over the pace and trajectory of rulemaking,” Branzell noted. It also “would have pushed providers to meet a higher bar, without pushing them off the cliff; and it would have ensured the long-term vitality of the program itself. Now, the very future of Meaningful Use is in question.”
Back in June, CHIME warned that although the pathways created by the Notice of Proposed Rule Making will enable hospitals and physicians to capitalize on progress they’ve made, “the benefits of this new flexibility will be immediately lost if 2015 reporting requirements are not tempered. Carrying forward the 2014 policy requiring providers submit data covering one quarter of their choosing in 2015 is common sense,” Branzell said.