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Associations endorse delay in stage 2 meaningful use attestation

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Several healthcare associations endorsed in a June 16 letter a federal advisory committee's recommendation that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology delay the first deadlines for stage 2 meaningful use attestation for electronic health records from 2013 to 2014.

In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelieus, organizations including the American Medical Association and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society say there should be at least an 18 month gap between the file rules on stage 1 meaningful use certification and standards, and the start of the second stage.

HHS stands to disburse up to $27.4 billion in incentive payments for medical practices to adopt electronic records, provided the practices make meaningful use of the software, as measured by around 20 metrics, such as whether EHRs are used to maintain an active medication list. HHS published final stage 1 rules in July 2010.

The Health IT Policy Committee, which advises ONC, voted June 8 to recommend that those medical practices that attest to stage 1 meaningful use in 2011 be permitted to delay stage 2 attestation until 2014. Practices that attest to stage 1 in 2012 would receive no extension and would have to meet their anticipated 2014 deadline without modification under the committee's recommendation.

With the stage 2 meaningful use rule set for publication in June 2012, not giving 2011 attesters an extra year would mean that they would fall behind, since EHR publishers wouldn't have enough time to develop and certify software with stage 2 criteria incorporated into their products, proponents of postponement say.

For more:
- download the June 16 healthcare association letter (.pdf)
- download the Health IT Policy June 8 recommendations (.pdf)

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