Hospital lobby criticizes CMS’ new ‘meaningful use’ rule

The American Hospital Association (AHA) on Tuesday expressed doubts that the nation’s hospitals — particularly those in rural areas — will be able to comply with new administration rules designed to nudge providers to manage patient care electronically.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) “made some important improvements” in its final guidelines, AHA said. But president and CEO Rich Umbdenstock said the group “remains concerned that the requirements may be out of reach for many of America’s hospitals.”

“Unfortunately,” Umbdenstock said in a statement, “CMS continues to place some barriers in the way of achieving widespread IT adoption by our nation’s hospitals and physicians.”

AHA criticized CMS for making hospitals in multi-campus settings ineligible for incentive payments. The group is also worried that rural hospitals will be left behind, which would “exacerbate the digital divide in health care,” Umbdenstock said, without offering details.

Finally, despite CMS’ move to slash hospital benchmarks for using Computerized Physician Order Entry, AHA opposes the agency’s requirement that hospitals adopt that system immediately. 

“Today’s rule,” Umbdenstock said, “raises some serious concerns and needs to be further evaluated to determine its impact on hospitals and the communities they serve.”