Halt MU2 penalties in 2015, AMA says

November 13, 2014

The majority of physicians could be facing penalties for not meeting meaningful use 2 requirements, and AMA says penalties should be removed.

The majority of physicians could face penalties next year for not meeting meaningful use 2 (MU2) requirements for electronic health records (EHRs), and the American Medical Association (AMA) says those penalties should be removed.

READ: With MU2 under attack, DeSalvo works two roles with HHS

Eligible providers (EPs) have until February 2015 to attest to MU2, or face a 1% reduction in Medicare reimbursements. Only 11,478 EPs have attested to MU2 as of November, which accounts for about 2% of healthcare providers. AMA President-elect Steven J. Stack, MD, says that without interoperability between EHRs, it will be impossible for providers to successfully attest to MU2.

“The AMA has been calling for policymakers to refocus the meaningful use program on interoperability for quite some time," Stack said in a press release. “The whole point of the meaningful use incentive program was to allow for the secure exchange of information across settings and providers and right now that type of sharing and coordination is not happening on a wide scale for reasons outside physicians' control. Physicians want to improve the quality of care and usable, interoperable electronic health records are a pathway to achieving that goal.”

On November 6, the AMA, along with the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society and the Medical Group Management Association wrote to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Systems (CMS) requesting that MU2 attestation be made simpler and more flexible. In October, the AMA wrote a blueprint to CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) outlining ways the meaningful use program could be improved.

As of July, CMS had received more than 44,000 hardship applications from practitioners requesting an extension for MU2 attestation. CMS is accepting another round of hardship applications until November 30.

ONC National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, told Medical Economics in an exclusive interview that it would take 10 years for health IT to have interoperability. “My goal is that we set a path together and a road map so that everyone can be brought along,” she says. “At the end of 10 years, this country will have built an interconnected data and communications system. In the next three years, we have to get the basic infrastructure, the fundamentals in place.”