CMS Releases Final Rules For Stage 2, Stage 3 Modifications

CMS Releases Final Rules For Stage 2, Stage 3 Modifications

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released final rules for meaningful use in Stage 2 and Stage 3 modifications. The Stage 2 modifications are final but in Stage 3, there could still be some changes.

It was mentioned in HCI reports that many health IT leaders showed confidence in the flexibilities to the program provided by CMS. These IT leaders gathered in Chicago for the Health IT Summit in Chicago, which was sponsored by the Institute for Health Technology Transformation. Later, it was announced in the summit that CMS has announced a 60-day public comment period to smoothen the progress of Stage 3 of the EHR Incentive Programs.

Naomi Levinthal, consultant, research and insights at The Advisory Board Company (Washington D.C.), said the fact that Stage 3 is not set in stone could trigger a response from CMS about the feedback they are getting from industry and lawmakers to delay the start date of Stage 3.

"They essentially said they will continue on with the proposal of Stage 3, with everything starting in 2018, but they said finalized with air quotes, which allows providers to have another 60-day comment period", Levinthal added.

John Halamka, health IT luminary and the CIO for the Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said in a statement that it is yet to be seen how the comment period on the EHR Incentive Programs final rule will be used. He said the fact that final rules of CMS are not yet ready are not surprising to him.

"I want to say that things will change and I want to say that CMS is feeling the pressure and has heard the provider community to make this program work, but I don't know," she says. Specifically, Kriegstein says she is disappointed that CMS didn't back off its proposal that 2018 is the effective Stage 3 year for all providers, with 2017 being optional. "We were hoping that would be changed. They really didn't change anything beyond the two rules becoming one regulation. It's troublesome they took that long to put it out without making any real changes. It also took OMB a month to finally get it to all of us," she says. For many standards that are immature, Kriegstein says that CMS "didn't meet us in the middle." Frankly, she notes, regarding the added comment period, "I don't know how much is up for discussion."

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