HHS issues proposed rules on Stage 2 of Meaningful Use

On February 24, 2012, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) issued proposed rules regarding Stage 2 of Meaningful Use. The proposed rules include the criteria for demonstrating Stage 2 Meaningful Use, and address the penalties for failure to achieve Meaningful Use by 2015. HHS noted the progress made in the last few years, but also recognized the challenges facing the industry, and pushed back the attestation for Stage 2 to 2014. Via HHS Press Release:

In a November 2011 'We Can’t Wait' announcement, the Department outlined plans to provide an additional year for providers who attested to meaningful use in 2011. Under today’s proposed rule, stage 1 has been extended an additional year, allowing providers to attest to stage 2 in 2014, instead of in 2013. The proposed rule announced by ONC identifies standards and criteria for the certification of EHR technology, so eligible professionals and hospitals can be sure that the systems they adopt are capable of performing the required functions to demonstrate either stage of meaningful use that would be in effect starting in 2014.

'The proposed rules for stage 2 for meaningful use and updated certification criteria largely reflect the recommendations from the Health IT Policy and Standards Committees, the federal advisory committees that operate through a transparent process with broad public input from all key stakeholders. Their recommendations emphasized the desire to increase health information exchange, increase patient and family engagement, and better align reporting requirements with other HHS programs,' said Farzad Mostashari, MD, ScM, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. 'The proposed rules announced today will continue down the path stage 1 established by focusing on value-added ways in which EHR systems can help providers deliver care which is more coordinated, safer, patient-centered, and efficient.

The number of hospitals using EHRs has more than doubled in the last two years from 16 to 35 percent between 2009 and 2011. Eighty-five percent of hospitals now report that by 2015 they intend to take advantage of the incentive payments.

A technical fact sheet on CMS’s proposed rule is available at http://www.cms.gov/apps/media/fact_sheets.asp.

A technical fact sheet on ONC’s standards and certification criteria proposed rule is available at http://www.healthit.gov/policy-research.

The proposed rules announced today may be viewed at www.ofr.gov/inspection.aspx. Comments are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Secretary Sebelius announces next stage for providers adopting electronic health records, HHS Press Release (February 24, 2012).

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