NRHA calls for EHR extension

Today, the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) joins members of Congress in calling for a one-year extension of the requirements for Stage 2 of the Electronic Health Records (EHR) Meaningful Use Incentive Program for providers who need additional time for compliance. While significant progress has been made by many rural hospitals and other rural providers, a significant number continue to struggle to meet the stringent timelines of Stage 2 adoption. “The challenges of rural care delivery -- including limited resources, technical support and vendor access -- make it extraordinarily difficult for many rural providers to meet the implementation timeline,” said Alan Morgan, CEO of the NRHA. Beginning in 2014, eligible hospitals and professionals participating in the Meaningful Use program will have to progress to new Stage 2 regulatory standards in order to meet program requirements.  Providers who do not meet the stringent requirements will be penalized by not receiving incentive Medicare reimbursement payments and could be subject to cuts in reimbursement payments when the penalty phase of the program begins in 2015. “The current timeline to meet Stage 2 requirements does not reflect current market realities for certain rural providers and could actually exacerbate the current digital divide,” said Morgan. The Congressional proposal would not impede their progress for the many rural providers who are achieving the electronic capabilities required for Stage 2 adoption.  However, for others who struggle, it would allow them time to manage vendor delays and to solidify financing and technical support. NRHA strongly supports the lead of Senators Thune (R-SD) and Alexander (R-TN) to ensure that rural providers become full participants in the Health IT adoption. Learn more about meaningful use by attending NRHA’s grassroots advocacy webinar at noon EDT tomorrow and the Rural Health Clinic and Critical Access Hospital Conferences next week in Austin, TX.

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