Inside CHIME: Cletis Earle on Getting Congress (and You) Engaged in Solutions
By Cletis Earle, CHIME Board Chair-elect, VP & CIO, Kaleida Health
I recently had the honor of representing you, the members of CHIME, at the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health in Washington, D.C. As your chairman-elect, I was invited to speak about H.R. 3120, legislation to reduce the volume of future EHR-related significant hardship requests. If passed, the bill would eliminate a mandate that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services impose increasingly stringent requirements for meeting Meaningful Use.
The challenge, as we well know, is the disconnect between the time it takes to develop and integrate new technologies into a hospital’s workflow and the pace set by the current legislation. For many of our hospitals and health systems, the inability to meet targets set in 2009 has had painful consequences, usually in the form of a financial penalty or the time-consuming task of seeking a hardship exemption.
Subcommittee Chairman Michael Burgess, a physician who represents Texas and the sponsor of the bipartisan legislation, summarized the consequences of the issues the bill aims to correct this way: “The best of intentions have made your lives more difficult and as a consequence the patients on the receiving end have suffered.”
Public policy can seem like a quagmire of rules with long names and obscure acronyms buried in documents that can exceed hundreds of pages. But it behooves us to pay attention and be proactive, for the two reasons Rep. Burgess offered and more.
As I pointed out in the written testimony that was submitted before the hearing, our members want to participate in the program. We want to keep the momentum that HITECH, or the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009, has created. We know technology can improve patient care. What we’ve asked for is a pause in regulations to allow us the time to work at giving the right technology to our providers so they can deliver optimal care.
We also want to help our hospitals and providers avoid unfair penalties, and educating legislators and their staff can help us achieve that goal. CMS reported that 171,000 Medicare providers faced a 3 percent negative payment adjustment for failing to demonstrate Meaningful Use in 2017. H.R. 3120 could help mitigate that.
We have a choice: to be part of the conversation when policies affect healthcare IT or be silent and wait for the consequences. As your representative, I voiced our collective support for H.R. 3120. The experience shows what we as an organization can accomplish, but we shouldn’t be complacent. After all, H.R. 3120 has not passed yet.
If you would like to get involved, contact Mari Savickis and Leslie Krigstein, CHIME’s public policy staff. They can be reached by email at [email protected]. Be sure to check out their weekly updates every Monday in the Debrief newsletter.
More Inside CHIME Volume 2, No. 16:
- Cybersecurity Bill Takes Aim at Vulnerabilities in Medical Devices – Leslie Krigstein
- Making the Most of Most Wired: Share Your Thoughts on Future Directions – Gretchen Tegethoff
- This Week’s Washington Debrief (7.31.17)