Argue Delay or Postponement of EHR Incentives Program Too Costly
In April a group of six Republican Senators released a public letter questioning just how and where the HITECH Act funds are being spent. In the white paper accompanying the letter, Reboot: Re-examining the Strategies Needed to Successfully Adopt Health IT, the Senators outlined their concerns over the decisions CMS and ONC have made to date in the march towards meaningful use, interoperability and health IT adoption. The six Senators who released the letter and white paper are Lamar Alexander (TN), Richard Burr (NC), Tom Coburn (OK), Mike Enzi (WY.),Pat Roberts (KS), and John Thune (SD).
Fast forward three weeks to May 6 when the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) responded to the Senators letter and white paper, addressing each concern, and giving support to the overall progress to date of the CMS EHR Incentive Program.
Now consumer and patient advocacy groups are weighing in. The Campaign for Better Care and the Consumer Partnership for eHealth, along with a dozen other non-profits, sent a letter on May 16 to the six Senators saying that any delay or postponement to meaningful use, interoperability and the EHR Incentive Program in general would be a mistake. The letter states that “pausing or delaying the (EHR Incentive) program is not the answer” and that the goals outlined in Stage 2 and Stage 3 promise improved care, improved outcomes, and lower costs. “These goals cannot and should not be compromised with delays or distractions.”
The Senators’ white paper raises concerns over the progress of interoperability. The response from CHIME recommends extending Stage 2 to give all stakeholders time to address this meaningful use lynchpin. The consumer groups make the argument that with the majority of physicians and hospitals registered for the EHR Incentive program, increased adoption will drive the need for interoperability.