Delay of Meaningful Use Stage 2 Unlikely, ONC Officials Say

During an event on Monday, officials with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT said changes to Stage 2 of the meaningful use program are unlikely because it would require CMS to embark on a lengthy process of changing regulations, Healthcare IT News reports (Versel, Healthcare IT News, 11/19).
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.
During an industry forum in October, former National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari offered some "insider clues" about the meaningful use program, including that a delay is unlikely.
Mostashari said CHIME and other organizations that are pushing for relief from meaningful use penalties should focus on "sub-regulatory guidance."
He said, "There is the ability in the rule for hardship exemption," adding, "You wouldn't get the [meaningful use incentive] payment, but you wouldn't get the penalty" (iHealthBeat, 10/11).
Meaningful Use Comments
During the American Medical Informatics Association Annual Symposium on Monday, Jodi Daniel -- director of ONC's Office of Policy Planning -- said a delay to the meaningful use Stage 2 requirements is unlikely.
Daniel said CMS is the only agency that would be able to authorize such a delay, but "it would require a regulatory change" that could take a year or longer. The process would include:

  • A notice of proposed rulemaking;
  • A mandatory public comment period; and
  • A CMS review of the comments and development of a final rule.

Meanwhile, Mat Kendall -- director of ONC's Office of Provider Adoption Support -- said the agency is working to make sure the original intent of the meaningful use program is not lost on providers.
To that end, Kendall said ONC has been:

  • Collaborating with other government agencies; and
  • Educating providers about the goal of producing safer, more effective care at a lower cost.

Privacy, Security Concerns
Privacy and security concerns also were expressed by the audience at the symposium, according to Healthcare IT News.
ONC Chief Privacy Officer Joy Pritts cited recent health information exchange surveys that found patients want to know how their health data are being used and shared. She said patients want "no surprises," adding, "You don't want to establish a sense of distrust between a health care provider and a patient."
Pritts said that small health care organizations have somewhat failed to properly assess security risks.
She said ONC is working with HHS' Office for Civil Rights to develop a free security risk assessment tool for smaller providers (Healthcare IT News, 11/19).
Source: iHealthBeat, Tuesday, November 19, 2013

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