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Meaningful Health Care Informatics Blog

Oct 8 2012   9:07PM GMT

Letter to HHS outlines reasons to stop incentive payments

Posted by: RedaChouffani
HHS, Kathleen Sebelius, MU

A letter requesting the stoppage of the distribution of meaningful use incentive money and signed by lawmakers was sent to Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) several days ago.

In the letter there was a rundown of the reasons why the following actions were requested:

  • Immediately suspend the payments from the Medicare and Medicaid incentive program.
  • Increase the requirements associated with the different stages of meaningful use
  • Work toward the elimination of the subsidization of business practices that block the exchange of information between providers.

The implementation of electronic medical records and some of the rules associated with meaningful use has been challenging, as many health care professionals know. Several of the adopters have seen significant improvements and value from the program in many regards. The upfront investments are much larger than the first payments from federal or state programs in many cases. The program is voluntary in its early stages, and many of the participants are looking to gain more from it than simply the incentives.

The requirements of the different stages of meaningful use are the result of collaborative work from health care executives, physicians, nurses and other stakeholders, it should be noted. Some of them also are the result of the feedback that was received form the public. Increasing the requirements may result in eligible professionals (EPs) and eligible hospitals (EHs) opting out completely from the program and not engaging in initiatives such as the exchange of electronic health records and other critical initiatives that would help improve patient care and reduce costs.

Health care is going through a transformation that will further leverage technology and help deliver a new model of care. Patients will have everything to gain by focusing on outcome measures as hospitals and physicians are incentivized to improve their health. HHS must continue to focus on maintaining the balance between incentivizing and penalizing in order to untimely improve the population’s health.

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