6 healthcare groups respond to CMS' proposed MACRA rule — EHRs, telehealth & more

CMS recently proposed changes for the 2018 performance year of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act's Quality Payment Program.

The proposed rule would reduce the reporting period for the program's advancing care information category and allow clinicians to use EHRs certified under the ONC's 2014 criteria, among other changes.

Here's how six healthcare groups reacted to the proposal's health IT changes.

American Hospital Association, which called for the cancellation of Meaningful Use Stage 3 in an earlier statement, was overall content with the proposed rule, AHA Executive Vice President Tom Nickels wrote in a statement.  

"We … applaud CMS's proposal to provide much-needed relief from unrealistic, unfunded mandates for EHR capabilities by extending the use of modified stage 2 meaningful use requirements through 2018. We will encourage CMS to provide the same relief to hospitals," wrote Mr. Nickels.

American Medical Informatics Association was pleased with the flexibility afforded to providers in EHR reporting requirements. It further applauded CMS for its expansion of the list of Improvement Activities that count towards bonus payments for the MIPS Advancing Care Information performance category.

"This approach helps credit clinicians for using health IT within a care improvement context, and we see this as a more outcomes-focused approach to measuring health IT use," President and CEO Douglas B. Fridsma, MD, said.

College of Healthcare Information Management Executives urged CMS to push back its mandate on 2015 EHR certification and Meaningful Use Stage 3 in a June 13 letter.

"CMS largely heeded our advice," wrote Mari Savickis, vice president of federal affairs, in a statement. "[But the proposed rule] does not address the 2015 CEHRT timelines for hospitals," she added.

Ms. Savickis also voiced concern the revised timeline would put providers at risk of "substantial financial penalties."

Health IT Now said the proposed rule change "strikes a balance" between quickly implementing MACRA and offering providers time to comply.

The group also offered recommendations for the proposed delay in adoption of 2015- edition EHR — "review the certification program to ensure each requirement is integral to supporting providers' success in the program," wrote HITN Executive Director Joel White in a statement.

Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society praised flexibilities the proposed rule would afford providers, specifically those allowing them to maintain use of their 2014-edition EHRs.

"The approach taken by CMS to encourage successful participation in Quality Payment Program while reducing burden aligns with our vision for how the program should proceed in 2018," reads the HIMSS statement.

The App Association's Connected Health Initiative expressed disappointment in CMS's failure to recognize and incorporate telehealth solutions into MACRA rules.

"The MACRA rules make minimal meaningful changes to reimbursement policies for telehealth or remote monitoring services, which is a disincentive to doctors and healthcare providers to leverage current, and future, innovations provided by app developers and telehealth companies," said Executive Director Morgan Reed.

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