Meaningful Use

The End of Meaningful Use... Not!

On January 11, 2016, the Acting Administrator of CMS, Andy Slavitt (@ASlavitt) tweeted:
"In 2016, MU as it has existed-- with MACRA-- will now be effectively over and replaced with something better ."  Better?  I guess we will see. 
This created chaos in the healthcare industry because too many assumed that meaningful use was gone.  Wrong conclusion.  Meaningful use is part of the federal regulations, but the details can be changed and will be based on the new law (MACRA) which was published in the Federal Register on October 20, 2015.  
First of all, in 2016, nothing is changing.  He had this all wrong.  You still have to attest to Stage II Meaningful Use (MU)  and all the objectives are still the same that were finalized in 2015, so how is this different?  Kind of irresponsible, in my opinoin.  I think he was a little excited in letting the cat out of the bag that the program is changing.  If you read MACRA, you would already know this, to some extent.  They do want to change MU because it is nearly impossible to achieve (Stage 2, first iteration) and there are few physicians (none of my clients) that think this helps achieve the goal of quality care.  You ask the patients and they would like nothing more than their physician to get their head out of their computer. 
OFF ON A BRIEF TANGENT: If you only knew the conversations a room full of consultants had in Fort Myers, FL on January 20, 2016, when I, along with Maxine Lewis, introduced them to  MACRA.  Give us a day with Congress and we would set them straight.  Go figure, they don't want our opinions or recommendations. Hmmmm?
OK, I'm back!
You and your practice's obligation to these programs DOES NOT change in 2016.  It is reporting as usual, if you have chosen to comply with the requirements up to this point.  Yes, you do have a choice.  But, if you don't comply, you will receive payment adjustments to your Medicare claims reimbursements in subsequent years.  But, this blog article is not being posted to discuss all of this.  I want to explore what this means in future years to you and your practice.  So let's take it a step at a time.  Be prepared to learn a lot.  This is not an easy program to understand and it certainly is consistent with what has come from the government in the past.  They always put the cart before the horse.  What do I mean by that?  Congress passes a law or regulations, then they worry about the details later.  What the heck would happen if you ran your practice that way?  You would be out of business.
Within MACRA, PQRS, Meaningful Use and the Value Based Payment Modifier (VBM) are all combined into one program starting in 2017, although payments from Medicare will not be affected by these programs until 2019. 
The EHR Incentive Programs.  Where we go next... The CMS Blog.  I'm confused.  There is no incentive ($$) any longer, but there sure are penalties.