Home > EHR, meaningful use, Medicare > CMS and ONC Announcement Regarding a Stage 2 MU Extension: What Does It Mean?

CMS and ONC Announcement Regarding a Stage 2 MU Extension: What Does It Mean?

Late last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for HIT (ONC) announced plans to extend Meaningful Use (MU) Stage 2, delay the upcoming Stage 3 and 2017 Edition certification criteria rulemakings, and implement a 2015 Edition of EHR certification criteria.

The most noteworthy piece of the announcement was that CMS will delay the “Stage 3 MU” rulemaking by several months.  The agency is now targeting a fall 2014 release of the proposed rule and a mid-2015 release of the final rule. ONC plans to release the “2017 Edition EHR certification criteria” proposed and final rules on the same timeline.

Additionally, ONC will conduct an extra, off-cycle rulemaking to establish so-called 2015 Edition EHR certification criteria. They plan to use that rulemaking to fix problems EHR developers might be having with the 2014 Edition requirements, as well as modify the way standards and implementation specifications are referenced in ONC’s regulations. The 2015 Edition will apparently be an optional alternative of sorts to the 2014 Edition.

The Stage 2 “extension” piece of the announcement will be a third year for participants who entered Stage 2 in 2014 (i.e., those physicians and hospitals who began MU in 2011 or 2012).  This is akin to the Stage 1 extension that 2011 participants were able to receive for 2013.  As described, the plan does not appear to delay the beginning of Stage 2 for those participants who are moving up next year.  It also does not seem to delay the mandatory implementation of 2014 Edition certified products in 2014.  Delays of that nature would require a rulemaking to modify the existing regulations; a process that would take considerably more time than what we have left.

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Categories: EHR, meaningful use, Medicare

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