Last week, Republican Lamar Alexander – U.S. Senator for Tennessee and chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee – proposed to delay the start date of Meaningful Use Stage 3. His proposal reiterates the recommendations he made back in July of this year. Alexander firmly believes in the adoption of EHRs as integral to a more efficient system of care, but that providers “need time [to] do it right. It does not help patients to make these massive changes fast and wrong.”¹ With this potential delay, requirements would then be “phased in” at a rate reflective of the success of implementation.mu3-delay

Alexander also strongly recommended that federal regulators apply certain modifications to Meaningful Use for the next two years. He stated that stage two requirements are too complex for the majority of eligible physicians to be able to comply.

Alexander speaks for more than 40 national specialty societies and the American Medical Association (AMA), who made the same case for modifying the final stage of the Meaningful Use program. Steven Stack, President of the AMA, agreed that a temporary period of reevaluation would only “help move the program forward and drive innovation and adoption.”² The resounding belief is that vendors need time to improve on their technology in order to truly help both physicians and patients successfully meet regulations.

“Many of those who testified have urged us to delay making final these stage three requirements in order to really help patients,” Alexander added. “I look forward to working with Senator Murray, Secretary Burwell and other members of the administration on finding the best ways to modify this program and these requirements.” The initial proposed rules for Meaningful Use have already reached the Office of Management and Budget for review and finalization.

We would not be surprised if the delay of Meaningful Use Stage 3 was approved. These Senate meetings restate our opinion that Meaningful Use will be de-emphasized in coming years and that the program itself is in a state of chaos.

Turning our attention to Meaningful Use for 2015, the final rule for this year has not even been published – but we wouldn’t be surprised if we receive guidance on the 2015 final rule later this week, or early next week at the latest. The fact that we’re almost at the fourth quarter of this year and the 2015 rule has not yet been finalized makes overtly evident that CMS has had trouble building consensus on the future of the Meaningful Use program, both in the short and long term.

Stay tuned for our blog on the 2015 final rule.