Delay of Stage 2 Meaningful Use
The opening of the Medicare attestation window for the CMS EHR incentive program on April 18th signaled the last significant milestone of the Stage 1 meaningful use process. The first payments are expected in 4 to 6 weeks for Medicare EPs that qualified for maximum incentives on that date. Each subsequent month should show a rising wave of payments to EPs that have met the criteria. The uncertainty about the details of the program that have swirled within the HIT industry for the past 18 months are being laid to rest.
So, what is next? How about Stage 2 meaningful use? The process for developing the objectives, required measures, and regulations for Stage 2 is proving to be much smoother than the Stage 1 process, except for one sticky issue. Created during the Stage 1 process was a framework of committees, workgroups, public comment, and Final Rules. Stage 2 details are currently being worked through this existing framework. The final Stage 2 Meaningful Use recommendations are due June 8th, 2011.
On April 20th, Paul Tang of the HIT Standards Committee, outlined Stage 2 relevant issues. One primary concern is the current “timeline for developing and implementing new functionality” for Stage 2. There is a growing apprehension among vendors, physicians, and other stakeholders that the current timeline is unrealistically aggressive and could lead to the inability of many EPs to achieve Stage 2 on schedule. Four different alternative timing options have been suggested, including delaying Stage 2 until 2014. Draft recommendations are to be presented May 11th at HIT Policy Committee session prior to the final June 8th recommendations. A modification to the Meaningful Use timeline would be an unexpected event. Stayed tuned, it’s not over until it’s over.