Federal Health IT Standards Pushed Back Yet Again

Sometimes deadlines just slip. The federal government’s deadline for providers certifying “Meaningful Use Stage 2″ in order to get federal funding for their electronic health records (EHRs) has just been bumped yet again:

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has reconsidered its original position not to extend the deadline for applying for Meaningful Use hardship exemptions and reopened the application submission period through Nov. 30, according to an announcement.

Eligible hospitals (EHs) and eligible professionals (EPs) who have not attained Meaningful Use and have not been granted a hardship exception are subject to “payment adjustments” of their Medicare reimbursement beginning Oct. 1 for EHs and Jan. 1, 2015 for EPs. The previous deadlines for submitting hardship exception applications had been April 1 for EHs and July 1 for EPs.

The deadline gets pushed back every time we get hear it, for the simple reason that the industry has the regulator on the ropes. As explained in a recent Health Alert, the EHR industry (with notable exceptions of vendors which participate in the CommonWell Alliance) has little interest in achieving the interoperability standards demanded by the Administration. However, it know the Administration requires industry’s support to lobby for further funding from a Congress that is disillusioned by having spent almost $30 billion with little to show for it.

Comments (7)

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  1. Dr. Mike says:

    “Our criteria for meeting what we define as meaningful use of your EHR are too difficult, so please please apply for a hardship exemption. Otherwise, we are going to hold back payment for the services you provided to our beneficiaries because, for reasons we cannot explain, we believe that your failure to meet what we define as meaningful use of the EHR product you purchased might cause harm to our beneficiaries. In what way they will be harmed we have no idea, but you are to be penalized anyway for not playing along.”

    • John R. Graham says:

      Thank you. Is it really appropriate to define meaningful-use payments as “payment for the services you provided to our beneficiaries”? Do you think Medicare beneficiaries really believe the EHR to be a service? I highly doubt it. If it were, physicians would pay for EHRs directly, like they pay for other items necessary to their practice.

      • Clint Ritter says:

        “Medicare beneficiaries really believe the EHR to be a service? I highly doubt it. If it were, physicians would pay for EHRs directly, like they pay for other items necessary to their practice.”

        Well said. I don’t see how policy makers fail to arrive at your conclusion, one that is so intuitively satisfactory regardless of politics.

  2. Alex Tate says:

    They should extend the deadline because it would help thousands of EPs.