Thursday, February 12, 2015


 I have frequently written about the impact of new Federal rules and regulations upon the practice of medicine and why the good old fashion personal doctor has become a dinosaur.  This article from Medscape medical news today is for information. 

  • EHR Meaningful Use Penalty Will Hit 257,000 Clinicians in 2015

The majority of physicians who are being penalized this year for not having met meaningful use requirements in previous years will forfeit less than $1000 of their Medicare reimbursement, according to data just released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Of the 256,000 eligible professionals (EPs) subject to "payment adjustments" in 2015, the data show, 87,000 (34%) will lose $250 or less, 55,000 (21%) will give up $250 to $1000, 36,000 (14%) will forfeit $1000 to $2000, and 78,000 (31%) will be fined $2000 or more.
When CMS announced late last year that Medicare would penalize 257,000 EPs for not having attested to meaningful use, the medical establishment was outraged. The American Medical Association (AMA) had already called for the penalties to be eliminated, although physicians had known from the outset of the government program that the incentives for showing meaningful use of electronic health records would be followed by penalties for failing to do so.

In the AMA's policy statement last November, the association referred to the fact that only 2% of physicians had demonstrated meaningful use stage 2 through September 30. The penalties for not achieving that goal, however, will not kick in until 2016, and far more physicians have attested to stage 2 since September.

According to CMS, 36,782 EPs attested to stage 2 through February 1. An additional 71,519 EPs are scheduled to attest to stage 2, because they have already attested to stage 1 for at least 2 years, CMS said.

Among the challenges that physicians face in meaningful use stage 2 is the lack of interoperability among electronic health records, which impedes their ability to meet the transition of care requirements. Direct secure messaging could help them but is still not being widely used. In addition, many physicians have encountered difficulties in getting at least 5% of their patients to view, download, or transmit health records on their patient portals.

The biggest problem in stage 2, however, will soon be improved. At this time, EPs are required to report on their meaningful use of electronic health records for a full calendar year, but CMS recently announced it plans to cut the reporting period to 90 days, as medical associations had strongly urged it to do.

The AMA was not impressed by the latest CMS data. "The [AMA] is alarmed by [the] announcement that more than three quarters of eligible professionals have still been unable to attest to Meaningful Use," the association said in an emailed statement. "The penalties physicians are facing as a result of the Meaningful Use program undermine the program's goals and take valuable resources away from physician practices that could be spent investing in better and additional technologies and moving to alternative models of care that could improve quality and lower costs."

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