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Low MU Attestation Numbers Prompts CHIME Call for Action

As substandard meaningful use (MU) attestation figures for program year 2014 continue, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) reiterated its call to immediately shorten the reporting period for 2015.

According to the data recently released by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) during the Health IT Policy Committee meeting, less than 35% of the nation's hospitals have met stage 2 MU requirements. And while eligible professionals (EPs) have until the end of February to report their progress, just 4% have met stage 2 requirements thus far.

"Despite policy efforts to mitigate a disastrous program year, today's release of participation data confirms widespread challenges with stage 2 meaningful use," says CHIME President and CEO Russell P. Branzell, FCHIME, CHCIO.

Roughly one in three hospitals scheduled to meet stage 2 in 2014 had to use alternative pathways to meet MU, administrative data current through December 1 indicate.

"This trend demonstrates how vital new flexibilities were in 2014 and again underscores the need for the same flexibility in 2015," says Branzell. "It is imperative officials take immediate action to put this critical transformation program back on track. Shortening the time frame for MU reporting in 2015 will help to ensure the program delivers on its promise to advance the transformation of health care in this country."

CHIME and several other national provider associations have repeatedly told CMS that without more program flexibility and a shortened reporting period in 2015, the future of MU is in jeopardy.

CMS data indicate that more than 3,900 hospitals must meet stage 2 measures and objectives in 2015 and more than 260,000 EPs will need to be similarly positioned by January 1, 2015. Given the low attestation data for 2014 and the tremendous number of providers required to meet stage 2 for a full 365 days in 2015, leaders in the Congress have pressed for a shortened reporting period in 2015 with the introduction of H.R. 5481, the Flexibility in Health IT Reporting Act, or Flex-IT Act.

"CHIME commends Representatives Renee Ellmers and Jim Matheson for their steadfast leadership and continued support for a 90-day reporting period in 2015," says Branzell. "Swift passage of the Flex-IT bill before Congress adjourns will provide the certainty that health care providers deserve to ensure the safe implementation and use of their EHR systems."

Ellmers (R-NC-2) and Matheson (D-UT-4) introduced H.R. 5481, the Flex-IT Act, in mid-September with resounding support from industry groups including CHIME, American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, and HIMSS. The bipartisan bill has reached over 21 cosponsors since being introduced.

Source: The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives