• Health IT Policy Committee Recommends Delay for Stage 2 Meaningful Use
  • July 8, 2011 | Author: Kathie McDonald-McClure
  • Law Firm: Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs, LLP - Louisville Office
  • On June 16, 2011, Paul Tang, M.D. , as Vice Chair of the Health IT Policy Committee for the  Office of National Coordinator (ONC), wrote a letter to Farzad Mostashari, M.D., the ONC National Coordinator, requesting a delay in implementing Stage 2 of the meaningful use criteria that eligible healthcare providers must meet in order to obtain the monetary incentives for adoption of electronic health records (EHRs).  The monetary incentives were established pursuant to the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (HITECH Act), which was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).  Dr. Tang states in the letter:

    The HITPC has heard from both the vendor community and the provider community that the current schedule for compliance with stage 2 meaningful use objectives in 2013 poses a nearly insurmountable timing challenge for those who attest to meaningful use in 2011. With the anticipated release of the final rule for stage 2 in June, 2012, it would require EHR vendors to design, develop, and release new functionality, and for eligible hospitals to upgrade, implement and begin using the new functionality by the beginning of the reporting year in October of 2012. After careful consideration of the trade-offs between the urgency with which new functionality is needed and the ability to safely deliver and to effectively use the new functionality, the HITPC recommends that—only for those who begin to attest to MU in 2011—an extra year be provided to phase in the stage 2 expectations (ie., Stage 2 for those who attest in 2011 would begin in 2014).

    The Committee asserts that the delay would only affect providers who implement Stage 1 in 2011.  This assumes that providers who wait until 2012 to implement Stage 1 would not have been ready to implement Stage 2 until 2014 anyway.  The letter also sets forth the proposals for stengthening Stage 1 criteria in Stage 2.  The Committee voted 12 to 5 in favor of the recommendations in the letter.