Docs, hospitals win delay in records deadline

Doctors and hospitals won a reprieve Friday when the Obama administration officially delayed part of an electronic health records (EHR) program.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are now permitting healthcare providers to receive incentive payments this year even if they failed to adopt 2014-certified EHR software.

The change means that doctors and hospitals will not be penalized if they fail to move into Stage 2 of the "Meaningful Use" program on time.

The final rule, released Friday, also extended Stage 2 through 2016 and announced that Stage 3 would begin in 2017.

“We listened to stakeholder feedback and provided ... flexibility for 2014 to help ensure providers can continue to participate in the EHR Incentive Programs forward," said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner in a statement.

"We were excited to see that there is overwhelming support for this change," Tavenner said.

Friday's delay was originally proposed in May after only four hospitals had attested to reaching Stage 2.

Advocates have expressed frustration with the delays in "meaningful use," the government's most comprehensive effort to move healthcare providers away from paper records.

But hospitals and doctors complain that the program's requirements are hampering their ability to deliver care.