Medicare: Docs IT Exempt?
Doctors with small practices or those who are edging up on retirement should be exempt from the new requirement to use electronic health records. That's the belief of many experts, including the chair of a House subcommittee on health technology, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), who has requested the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to give this group of physicians a break when it comes to shifting to IT.
According to MedPage Today, in a May 1st letter to CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, Ellmers expressed concern about the "meaningful use" requirements contained in the 2009 HITECH Act. The act authorized incentive payments through Medicare and Medicaid to clinicians and hospitals that use electronic health records in a way that significantly improves clinical care, but it also penalizes those who don't reach the health IT goals by the deadlines set by CMS.
The American Medical Association reports that 60% of physicians work in practices with fewer than 10 doctors and wrote a letter to CMS in March outlining its "profound concern" about the "imminent storm" that will occur with the implementation of meaningful use requirements.
The American Hospital Association also outlined concerns with meaningful use regulations, stating: "Taken as a whole, the proposed requirements for meeting Stage 2 raise the bar too high and are not feasible for the majority of hospitals to achieve. The AHA believes that this objective is not feasible as proposed, raises significant security issues, and goes well beyond current technical capacity."