Industry Responds to GOP Letter Stating Cease EHR Incentives

Reactions to Call for HHS to Stop EHR Incentives

In a letter dated October 4th, four GOP Congressional Committee Chairmen wrote to HHS Secretary Sebilus and copied CMS Acting Administrator Tavenner, and ONC Mostashari. In this letter they called on the Secretary to cease all payment for the EHR program and accused the stage 2 rules, if implemented, will “squander taxpayer dollars and does little, if anything, to improve outcomes for Medicare”. As you can imagine it has gotten a lot of press since it went public. We posted Tom Sullivan’s 5 Obvious Cases Against Suspending MU Payments when the story broke. And here is what we have been hearing since from around the industry.

ONC Farzard Mostashai was in Chicago at the CMIO Leadership Forum where he made a statement concerning the letter. reported ONC Mostishari noted “that the period before a presidential election is known in Washington, D.C., as ‘the silly season.’ He also pointed out that the democratic process requires a legislative bill that must pass a vote in the House, the Senate and get signed by the President.”

While there is still work to be done, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems (HIMSS) opposes the premise of the letter. “HIMSS supports the concept of graduated complexity of meaningful use; this stepped approach recognizes evolutionary maturity of adoption and implementation of health IT – all of which serves as the foundation for healthcare transformation. Significant progress has been made; widespread interoperability is within reach.” Read their policy statement.

The Association of Regional Centers for Health Information Technology (ARCH-IT) responded to the letter through an email and press release yesterday. In defense of more than 135,000 primary care providers that have enrolled through the help of their REC, the letter goes against everything they are set up to do. “It is hard to fathom the fact that people in our government would oppose the important improvements in healthcare that information technology delivers, and the dramatic changes electronic medical records will have on the quality of care delivered to our patients and the health of the nation,” said Robert Schwartz, M.D., chair of the South Florida Regional Extension Center. The HIT Arkansas blog posted the letter.

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee of Gov Info Security, calls the halting of HITECH funds “misguided. “Suspending the HITECH incentive program midstream makes little sense. It will only fuel uncertainty and distrust among many healthcare providers that have, in good faith, begun adopting EHRs.” Read her thoughts.