MGMA joins in asking for greater Stage 2 Meaningful Use flexibility

The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) has joined other leading organizations, including the American Medical Association, in writing to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) to ask for even more flexibility in how eligible providers can meet Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements for electronic health record technology under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.

In the MGMA letter, Anders M. Gilberg, senior vice president of government affairs for the association, applauded CMS and the ONC for the flexibility already created by rulemaking, including reporting flexibility for providers that encountered issues in access to EHR technology certified for Stage 2, extending Stage 2 an additional year and delaying Stage 3 another year. Now the MGMA would like to see CMS and the ONC build on these policy changes with additional corrections to the program to “ensure success of the program and the long-term sustainability of IT in physician practices.”

According to the MGMA, the Meaningful Use policy as currently implemented is creating a slew of unintended consequences that distract clinicians in their treatment of patients. To fix the program, the MGMA wants to see the following:

  • Extension of reporting flexibility beyond 2014 and early communication about this extension.
  • A broadening of the possible scenarios under which a provider may be unable to “fully implement” Stage 2 Meaningful Use certified EHR technology and recognition that an EHR developer having a certified product is not exactly the same as having that product available to providers. MGMA points out that there can be delays in getting the necessary software updates from the developer and the needed staff training on the upgrade.
  • A re-opening of the hardship exception period for providers who missed the original deadline because of confusion due to late government rulemaking.