HHS extends meaningful use of health IT incentive deadline

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services announced it will extend, by one year, the deadline for meeting stage 2 meaningful use requirements to providers who qualify as stage 1 meaningful users in 2011. Under current rules for the Medicare portion of the electronic health-record system meaningful use incentive program created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,  providers who qualified for incentive payments as meaningful users under stage 1 would have to meet new, stricter stage 2 standards in 2013 that many critics saw as a disincentive. Today’s announcement changes this by  allowing providers who delayed participation in the meaningful use incentive program until 2012 to wait to meet stage 2 requirements until 2014 while still being eligible for the incentive payment. HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius made the announcement in a press release just before speaking at Cuyahoga Community College where she was discussing the use of health information technology in job creation as part of the president’s “We Can’t Wait” initiative. Providers will now have until 2013, rather than 2012, to meet standards if they commit to health IT this year. The extension was recommended by the federally chartered Health Information Technology Policy Committee and was subsequently adopted by Farzad Mostashari, MD, head of the Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.