"A final rule that does not lay a clear path in the first year toward tangible improvements in quality and lay the foundation for the systemic changes necessary for reform would represent a waste of taxpayer dollars," the letter states. "Other industries have long viewed IT investments simply as a cost of doing business. The health care sector has lagged behind but now it has an opportunity for unprecedented federal financial help. But the consumers and employers who are footing the bill for such improvements must see a return on their investment."
CMS’ proposed rule lays the foundation for change. Providers that hope to qualify for incentives would be required to implement common sense measures like maintaining active medication lists for their patients in order to avoid dangerous drug interactions. They would also need to report on quality measures to demonstrate that patients are getting the care they need.
"The meaningful use incentive program is just that — an incentive program," the letter continues. "It is not a mandate, and we do not believe it represents the regulation of an industry. Providers who want to implement HIT on a different timeline and with their own resources can do so. Those who seek and accept taxpayer dollars to more rapidly build out their capacity must demonstrate that those taxpayer dollars are used wisely to improve health outcomes, better engage patients and families in their care, and reduce health care costs."
In the letter, the groups urge federal officials to stand strong against attempts by some stakeholders who want to see CMS slow down the implementation of the first year’s requirements. "Rather than just paying providers to digitize their records, the proposed rule would improve care coordination and communication. And when doctors, patients, and caregivers have the information they need at their fingertips and are talking with each other, consumers receive better care," said Debra L. Ness, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families.
To see the letter, click here.
The National Partnership for Women & Families has released a new fact sheet: How the Meaningful Use of Health IT Could Benefit Consumers... If CMS Publishes a Strong and Robust Final Rule.
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.