HIMSS Opposes Call for Suspension of EHR Incentive Program

HIMSS opposes the Oct. 4 call from four House Republican leaders for the Department of Health and Human Services to “immediately suspend the distribution of incentive payments until [the Department] promulgates universal interoperable standards.” In press release, HIMSS emphasizes the significant progress that has been made towards the adoption of EHRs and exchange of health information since the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive program began in 2011.

The House Republican leaders’ letter asks HHS to take additional steps to “advance interoperability and meaningful use” of health information technology (IT). HIMSS notes that the Stage 2 Final Rule, published by the HHS Sept. 4, moves the nation definitively towards interoperability.

While there is still much work to be done, HIMSS observes that adoption of secure, interoperable health IT systems continues to grow, in part due to the mandate of the HITECH provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Recently-released CMS data show that over 2,700 Eligible Hospitals and 73,000 Eligible Professionals have attested to Meaningful Use Stage 1 requirements since the incentive program began in 2011. And since the first incentive payments were made in May 2011, HIMSS Analytics data reports a steady increase in eligible hospitals achieving higher scores on the HIMSS Analytics Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM). These are clear indicators that government incentives are working, the press release states.

HIMSS supports the concept of graduated complexity of meaningful use; this stepped approach recognizes evolutionary maturity of adoption and implementation of health IT – all of which serves as the foundation for healthcare transformation. Significant progress has been made, the press release states, and widespread interoperability is within reach.

For more information, please visit www.himss.org.