Meaningful Use, Health Insurance Exchanges Continue to Evolve

In August, federal officials released the final Stage 2 rule for Meaningful Use. The second stage calls for hospitals, physicians, and other 'eligible providers' to increase interoperability of health information, adopt more standardized data formats, and generally make their EHR systems more capable than in the current Stage 1.

HIT Roundup

In August, federal officials released the final Stage 2 rule for Meaningful Use. The second stage calls for “hospitals, physicians, and other ‘eligible providers’ to increase interoperability of health information, adopt more standardized data formats, and generally make their EHR systems more capable than in the current Stage 1.” One of the primary objectives of the Stage 2 rule is for all providers to “use secure electronic messaging to communicate with patients on relevant health information,” and “provide patients the ability to view online, download and transmit their health information within four business days of the information being available.”

Another significant change is the timing for the implementation of Stage 2 meaningful use. Brian Ahier recently elaborated on this change:

Under the current requirements, eligible doctors and hospitals that began participating in the Medicare EHR Incentive Programs in 2011 would have had to meet new standards for the program in 2013. If they did not participate in the program until 2012, they could wait to meet these new standards until 2014 and still be eligible for the same incentive payment. To encourage faster adoption the rule allows doctors and hospitals to adopt health IT in 2011, without meeting the new standards until 2014. The proposed rule would move all menu set items to core measures, and many of the percentages are increased, and some new menu objectives added.

Providers can begin earning incentive payments for Stage 1 use as late as 2017; however, Medicare will impose penalties for not achieving Meaningful Use by 2015.

To read more about the Stage 2 rule, please visit the resources below.

Around the Web

Stage 2 meaningful use: Patient engagement and HIE [Government Health IT]

Meaningful Use Stage 2 Rules Finalized [InformationWeek]

Proposed Rules for Stage 2 Meaningful Use[Healthcare, Technology, and Government 2.0]

Meaningful Use Stage 2 Proposed Rule: Notice of Proposed Rule-Making [HealthIT.gov]

Health Insurance Exchanges

Considering that an estimated 25 million people are to gain health coverage through health insurance exchanges (HIX) over the next 10 years, it’s not a good sign that many people have no idea what they are. Perhaps that is because the nation is so fragmented that it’s easier just to not pay attention and hope that they either go away or sort themselves out.

Despite being a central part of the Obama Administration’s health reform, only 13 states have committed to setting up their own HIX. According to the Wall Street Journal’s Louise Radnofsky, the main concern of those setting up their HIX is getting people to use the system. In fact, states are so wary about the term “Health Insurance Exchange” because “the word exchange ‘raises some suspicions of loopholes and fine print’ and ‘implies current coverage may needed to be traded for something else.’” States are considering their own nomenclature, and some potential terms for the program so far are HealthLink, HealthChoice, and Health Choices.

The American Medical Association recently tackled the subject of physician guidance in HIX. Physicians navigating the world after health system reform “are headed toward a large, uncharted area over the horizon in the form of health insurance exchanges. The coverage marketplaces will serve millions of people, but with few predecessor models to serve as guides, doctors wondering what the exchanges will be like for them are, for the most part, sailing blind.” The AMA has been strongly advocating the “inclusion of practicing physicians and patients on the governing structures of health insurance exchanges,” but also seeks to “allow only nonpracticing doctors to serve on the boards” in order to avoid any conflicts of interest.

To read the latest information on HIX, please visits the resources below.

Around the Web

Health insurance exchanges: The big unknowns [American Medical Association]

Puzzling Over What to Call State Insurance Exchanges [Wall Street Journal]