Meaningful Use Stage 1 & 2 Modifications Rule Has Yet to Be Released Despite Pressure from Medical Community and Congress 
Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) Send Letter Urging Release of Modifications Rule and Delay of Stage 3
Despite the fact that physicians who plan to take advantage of proposed flexibility for Stages 1 and 2 of Meaningful Use must begin reporting for the 2015 90-day period, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have not yet released the final modifications rule. ASCRS•ASOA and the medical community have continuously advocated for the modifications rule to be finalized and released immediately with its shortened reporting period and reduced patient engagement measure thresholds, so physicians will be able to achieve Meaningful Use in 2015. Late last week, several medical societies, including the AMA, joined with CHIME, a coalition of health IT stakeholders, to meet with OMB and request the modifications rule be released immediately and Stage 3 delayed.
In addition, this week, HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee John Thune (R-SD) sent a letter  to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell requesting the rule be released immediately and that Stage 3 be delayed until no sooner than 2017. The Senate letter follows a similar bipartisan House sign-on letter  last week to CMS and OMB, which garnered 116 signatures. On Thursday, the AMA released a statement  calling for the release of the rule and requesting CMS develop a hardship exemption for physicians who do not have the opportunity to report successfully this year. We still expect the rule to be released at any time and will send an alert to all ASCRS•ASOA members when it is.
Meanwhile, at a HELP Committee hearing this week , Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) opened the hearing by repeating his previous statement requesting the administration release the modifications rule immediately and not finalize the Stage 3 proposed rule until at least 2017. In addition, he outlined five reasons  to delay Stage 3, to ensure physicians and hospitals have “time to get it right.” He went on to press the two witnesses, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, and CMS Acting Principal Deputy Administrator for Innovation and Quality and Chief Medical Officer Patrick Conway, MD, MSc, about the agency’s plans for moving ahead with Meaningful Use. Chairman Alexander noted that he had heard from Secretary Burwell that implementing the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), which includes the new Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), was the agency’s top priority and suggested given that, Stage 3 be paused to give time for the agency to develop MIPS, which includes a Meaningful Use component. Dr. Conway noted CMS had released a request for information on MACRA and expects to release a proposed rule sometime in spring 2016. Later in the hearing, Sen. Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA), a practicing gastroenterologist, questioned the witnesses about the administration’s continued refusal to allow medical specialty societies to provide input on relevant measures.
We continue to monitor the situation closely and will keep you updated.