Tumbling Dice and Meaningful Use in 2015
Now I’m not a betting man. I’ve been to Las Vegas only once and was fortunate enough to escape with both my dignity and bank account intact. The old timers say, “better to be lucky than good” and they just may be right. The Meaningful Use (MU) dice are rolling and tumbling right now and they just might come up “box cars” (double sixes). The odds are starting to look good for a reprieve for those eligible providers who are hoping to get a roll back on the full year requirements for MU in 2015. I put the odds at greater than 50%.
Many of the medical associations, especially on the hospital side, are pushing levers and pulling strings to remove the requirement for the full year MU requirement in 2015. The CMS EHR Incentive program has moved passed the big incentives and entered the territory of penalties and “fee adjustments”. Things are getting serious, big money is on the table and voices are being raised. The regulatory entities of CMS and ONC are aware of the issue but are often beyond the reach of lobbyists and other forms of pressure to make adjustments. We only have to look back at the most recent delay in the ICD-10 to see real power at work. That delay was delivered on a silver plate in the dark of night. If you are interested in the details of how that took place take a look at my post from last spring, Power Politics and the Hijacking of Healthcare Policy.
A bill was introduced in congress in 2014 that was a mirror image of the process that brought us the ICD-10 delay. The goal was to block the requirement for any provider, no matter the MU Stage, to have to have a full year reporting period in 2015. It was short and sweet with fewer sentences than the fingers on your hand. “…Secretary of Health and Human Services shall continue through 2015 (in the case of eligible professionals) and fiscal year 2015 (in the case of eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals) to permit the use of a 3-month quarter EHR reporting period to demonstrate meaningful use for purposes of such part, without regard to the payment year or the stage of meaningful use criteria involved.” The standard bearer for this bill was Congresswoman Renee Ellmers of North Carolina. The bill garnered quite a few co-sponsors, had a shot at passage, but missed by not being included in an emergency appropriation bill in December. 2015 is a new year with a new Congress and I expect similar legislation will be coming soon. The drum beat continues and the dice are tumbling. I’m thinking Lady Luck is on the side of the providers.