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Republican Doctors Lobby Speaker Ryan for MU Delay

"A legislative remedy is the only way to ensure providers are protected from this deeply flawed Stage 3 rule," reads the caucus letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan.

- The 18 medical providers who comprise the GOP Doctors Caucus wrote to House Speaker Paul Ryan on Nov. 20 urging delay of Stage 3 meaningful use requirements as well as a blanket hardship waiver exception for MU Stage 2.

A group of 18 House Republicans, all medical providers, are urging Speaker Paul Ryan to help delay meaningful use requirements.

The letter also asked for Ryan’s cooperation in pushing back the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)’ proposed Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) payment model.

The co-chairs of the Doctors Caucus for the 114th Congress are Phil Roe, MD, (R-Tenn.) and John Fleming, MD, (R-La.). Diane Black (R-Tenn.), a registered nurse, serves as vice chair. The group’s stated agenda is to “utilize their medical expertise to develop patient-centered healthcare reforms focused on quality, access, affordability, portability and choice.”

In regard to meaningful use, their letter states: “On October 6, 2015, CMS announced its intention to push forward in finalizing the rule for Stage 3 of MU, despite calls from the healthcare community and Congress to refrain from doing so. In the same final rule, CMS included modifications to Stage 2 recognizing that the original criteria were unworkable. Given the fact that only 12 percent of physicians have met Stage 2 requirements, we believe a simultaneous implementation of more stringent criteria, along with the assessment of penalties for the first time this year, is likely to create a chilling effect on further EMR adoption as physicians conclude that the cost of implementation is simply not worth the bureaucratic hassle. CMS has pushed forward with its rule in the face of bipartisan, bicameral opposition. Thus, a legislative remedy is the only way to ensure providers are protected from this deeply flawed Stage 3 rule.”

The letter also points out that, by the time the modified Stage 2 rule was released on Oct. 6, providers had fewer than 90 days remaining in calendar year 2015 to meet reporting requirements in order to avoid a penalty. The signatories call for amending the MU statute to allow for a blanket hardship exception for the 2015 Stage 2 reporting period. Earlier this month, Rep. Tom Price, MD, (R-Ga.), a former orthopedic surgeon and a member of the caucus, introduced the “Meaningful Use Hardship Relief Act of 2015,” which would authorize exactly such a blanket exception. Price has been described as a close ally of Ryan.

“Members of our caucus, as well as numerous congressional health care leaders, have engaged CMS on these issues to warn them of the potential negative consequences of placing these new requirements on providers in order to meet an arbitrary deadline,” the caucus letter concludes. “Congressional action is the only solution left for preserving patient access, choice and quality. We stand ready to work with you to find an appropriate legislative vehicle to protect patients by addressing CMS’ hasty rulemaking in the meaningful use program and the CJR payment model.”

The website Politico reports that the caucus will push for legislation to be attached as riders to upcoming appropriations bills, the most recent of which expires. Dec. 11.

Here’s the full list of GOP Doctors Caucus members:

  • Phil Roe, MD, co-chair
  • John Fleming, MD, co-chair
  • Diane Black, RN, vice chair
  • Ralph Abraham, MD
  • Brian Babin, DDS
  • Dan Benishek, MD
  • Charles Boustany, MD
  • Larry Bucshon, MD
  • Michael C. Burgess, MD
  • Scott DesJarlais, MD
  • Renee Ellmers, RN
  • Paul Gosar, DDS
  • Andy Harris, MD
  • Joe Heck, DO
  • Tim Murphy, PhD
  • Tom Price, MD
  • Mike Simpson, DMD
  • Brad Wenstrup, DPM



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