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CMS and ONC Propose One-Year Meaningful Use Extension

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On Dec. 6, CMS and the Office for the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) proposed a one-year extension for Stage 2 of Meaningful Use for eligible providers who began attesting in 2011 or 2012.

This would allow for such providers to report on Stage 2 requirements through 2016 and then, in 2018, begin reporting on Stage 3.

CMS and ONC indicated that the proposed extension would allow for: This proposed extension is in response to pressure from providers, vendors and policymakers that the current timeline is too aggressive for providers to meet reporting requirements, and for vendors to update EHR platforms to meet certification standards. Given previous criticism, some congressional Republicans are likely unhappy with the extension, after calling Stage 2 requirements too weak. In contrast, the American Hospital Association and the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives argued that the proposal does not alleviate the challenges that providers have faced in Stage 2, particularly since the initial Stage 2 reporting period for providers who first attested in 2011 or 2012 would remain unchanged.

    Greater data analysis demonstrating provider progress and outcomes in Stage 2.

    Additional time to develop/revise Stage 3 requirements.

    More time for EHR vendors to create/ update products to meet current certification criteria.

The proposed extension would not, however, extend the timeline for incentive payments. To date, CMS has paid nearly $17 billion to eligible providers (EPs) who have successfully demonstrated Meaningful Use. 2016 is the final year for eligible hospitals (EHs) and EPs in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program to receive incentive payments, while EPs in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program can earn payments through 2021.

In the fall of 2014, CMS will likely issue a notice of proposed rulemaking for Stage 3, including additional details on this proposed extension. In the first half of 2015, CMS will release a final rule outlining the requirements for Stage 3. Medicare Meaningful Use incentive payments will likely continue to be reduced by two percent each year due to the absence of a new budget deal.

For more information on this proposed extension, click here.

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