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Group submits proposal for changing weight of meaningful use objectives

Though the criteria and focus of the meaningful use program have changed on multiple occasions since the program’s inception, one of the most significant features of the program — the percentage of meaningful use objectives providers must achieve to qualify for incentive payments — has remained constant. The American Hospital Association would like to put an end to that.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) addressed a letter to CMS asking the agency to consider adjusting the threshold for qualifying for meaningful use incentive payments, which currently requires participating providers to fully satisfy each of the meaningful use objectives. The AHA is asking that providers only have to complete 70% of meaningful use requirements to be recognized as having met meaningful use. In the letter, the AHA stated that it was not in favor of the standing all-or-nothing approach and has “recommended against this misguided policy since the inception of the [Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive] programs.”

The AHA labeled it unfair that some providers spend significant time and money on fulfilling all of the meaningful use objectives, only to fail on a portion of one criterion, which results in overall failure and could result in a financial penalty. The group’s letter did mention that it appreciates the alterations CMS made to meaningful use in 2014 and 2015, which included shortening the reporting period from 365 to 90 days in 2015.

In October 2015, ONC and CMS came out with additional changes that applied to future years and the next stage of the meaningful use program. The two groups made it so that eligible physicians will only have to meet 10 meaningful use objectives in each year from 2015 to 2017. That number was cut from the previous total of 18 objectives in an attempt to reduce the pressure of meaningful use attestation. The total amount of meaningful use objectives that apply to eligible and critical access hospitals during those years was also minimized from 20 to nine. Additionally, those that choose to attest to meaningful use stage 3 in 2017 will only be required to do so for a 90-day period.