HIT Policy Committee Votes Stage 2 Meaningful Use Delay

Jim Tate, Meaningful Use Expert

 Stage 2 Meaningful Use Delay

As expected, the HIT Policy Committee voted yesterday (6/8/11) to recommend a one year delay in Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements.

This action reflects an important functionality in the governing bodies that when potential threats to the HIT adoption arise, corrective action can take place. The 12-5 vote endorsed the Meaningful Use Workgroup’s recommendations to the Policy Committee. The vote included not only the issue of timing, but also some of the specific requirements that will be incorporated into Stage 2. Now the recommendations move to CMS where acceptance and additional rule-making will take place.

The delay will only directly affect EPs and EHs that qualified for the incentives in 2011. Those groups were on a tight timeline that required meeting Stage 2 by 2013. Since the final rule for Stage 2 is not expected until June 2012, there is simply not enough time for 2011 EPs and EHs to acquire or upgrade their EHRs with the new functionality in time. The Policy Committee said it bluntly: “compliance with stage 2 meaningful use objectives in 2013 poses a nearly insurmountable timing challenge for those who attest to meaningful use in 2011”.

This new development immediately bring numerous questions to the surface: How long will it take CMS to review the recommendations and complete the formal rule-making process? For 2011 Stage 1 EPs and EHs who are suddenly given another year of elbow room, what will it take to make sure their adoption process does not stagnate? If 2011 EPs can remain in Stage 1 for 3 years, will they only receive 2 years of incentives for Stage 1? What are the implications of this delay for Stage 3 timing? What other “downstream implications” are yet to surface?

The Secretary of HHS has broad authority to extend and modify the EHR adoption program as they perceive changes are necessary to support the mission of EHR rollout. Nice to see this potential train wreck was identified and corrected. This ability bodes well for the future success of HIT adoption. Everyone knows we have one shot to pull this off and it has to work. There will not be a government funded second chance.