Friday, April 6, 2012

MedPAC Raises Concern About Meaningful Use Attestation

Many are skeptical about accepting Federal Incentive payments for the adoption of meaningful use to become qualified for the payments authorized by HITECH and stimulus funding.  It may also be true that many are willing to face penalties for not adopting EMRs after the deadline for implementation passes.

The usual approach of the federal government to offer the carrot before the stick has become a hackneyed way of doing business with the Feds and the States.

Now that Medicare and some private insurers have squeezed most practices to the breaking point and the number of uninsured has soared in the past two years no one can blame beleaguered physicians for accepting the Machiavellian tactics of HHS planners.  None of this was encouraged, nor promoted by the grass roots of medical practice in the United States.

Hopefully it is not too late and freedom loving physicians and patients will take the risk of saying ‘hell no’. The end of the road is clearly in site, unless this occurs, and accepting this fiat from the Feds will only be the beginning of endless demands to add more MU criteria every few years.  The handwriting on the wall is clear, as we are marched off to get our bar of soap for the ‘showers’.   I know the comparison is grim and probably offends many..But it is the truth as I see it.

We are not in a unique situation, as this is occurring in the U.S. in general with an executive branch and congressional branch that ignore the US Constitution. This is no accident as our President is a constitutional scholar. 

Early studies, save for a very few, show a dismal ROI and a lack of meaningful  improvement in health care delivery, not withstanding the meaningless use criteria invented by social planners and ‘visionary’ leaders.

This report from MEDPAC clearly tells the story of disappointment.

During a meeting in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, several Medicare Payment Advisory Commission members raised concerns about the small number of eligible professionals and hospitals that have successfully attested to the Medicare portion of the meaningful use program, AHA News reports (AHA News, 4/5).

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

MedPAC Data

Commission members noted that health care provider participation in the meaningful use program is lower than the federal government projected.

According to CMS data released at the MedPAC meeting, total incentive payments awarded to eligible professionals for the meaningful use of EHRs reached $636 million in February, a 57% increase over the previous month, while cumulative payments to hospitals reached $1.4 billion, a 10% increase from the previous month.

The 10% increase in hospital payments in February is down from December 2011 when there was a 50% increase in cumulative incentive payments to hospitals.

According to the data, 3,280 hospitals -- or 58% of eligible facilities -- and 126,321 physicians -- or 25% of eligible professionals -- have registered for the meaningful use program.

Of those, 796 hospitals -- or 16% -- and 31,650 physicians -- or 6% -- have received payments.


Some hospital and physician advocates cited high EHR adoption costs and overly burdensome program requirements as reasons for the low adoption rates (Daly, Modern Healthcare, 4/6).

MedPAC members indicated an interest in monitoring the meaningful use program to determine if EHR adoption reduces costs and boosts efficiency (AHA News, 4/5).

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