“The American Medical Association (AMA) appreciates the changes proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) yesterday to make it easier for physicians to achieve Meaningful Use. However, our chief concern remains unaddressed and we worry that current requirements will slow the adoption of technology that will help coordinate care and improve quality and that many physicians will drop out of the Meaningful Use program if the current all-or-nothing approach remains in place. To date approximately twenty percent of eligible professionals – mostly doctors – have dropped out of the program and we expect this number to grow unless more changes are made.
“A recent RAND Health report commissioned by the AMA reflects physician dissatisfaction with the Meaningful Use program and accounts for some of the reasons many are dropping out. It found that physicians feel the Meaningful Use program is burdensome and, in many cases, doing nothing to advance patient care. Allowing physicians who are having difficulty updating software to use electronic health records that have been certified for the 2011 Edition for 2014 and giving them an additional year to achieve Stage 2, could help more physicians meet the program requirements and avoid a financial penalty in 2015. Although those proposed changes are helpful, we believe the current requirements, particularly for Stage 2, still remain a longshot for many doctors to meet.
“We recommend that CMS and ONC replace their all-or-nothing approach with a 75 percent pass rate for achieving Meaningful Use. Additionally, we believe that physicians who meet at least 50 percent of the Meaningful Use requirements be able to avoid financial penalties. Absent this type of flexibility, we are concerned that the Meaningful Use program may falter irreparably.
“We also recommend that CMS better align quality reporting programs. The rule proposed yesterday does not adequately address reporting clinical quality measures because physicians still must report separately for Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), Value Based Modifier (VBM) and Meaningful Use programs to avoid penalties and receive incentives. That inefficiency places an additional burden on physician practices that does not improve care.”
Statement attributed to:
Steven J. Stack, MD
Immediate Past Chairman of the Board of Trustees, American Medical Association