Clearing up the Confusion: Meaningful Use Stage 2 Extended, Not Delayed

The healthcare industry was abuzz last Friday in response to an announcement from the ONC and CMS regarding a new timeline for Meaningful Use. The word on the web immediately following the statement’s release was that healthcare providers could breathe a sigh of relief as Stage 2 was being pushed back to 2016. The news, however, turned out to be a lot less exciting when providers began to realize that Stage 2 is still on for next year.

According to the announcement released by Jacob Reider, Acting National Coordinator for Health IT, and Robert Tagalicod, Director at the Office of E-Health Standards and Services at CMS, under the revised timeline:

Stage 2 will be extended through 2016 and Stage 3 will begin in 2017 for those providers that have completed at least two years in Stage 2.

The bottom line is this: if CMS was expecting you to start attesting to Stage 2 Meaningful Use in 2014, you still have to. You are just going to get one extra year of Stage 2 reporting before Stage 3 kicks in in 2017. This means that if you started attesting to Meaningful Use in 2011 or 2012:

  • You still have to start reporting for Stage 2 next year as planned.
  • You are going to end up attesting to Stage 2 for three years instead of two.

Meaningful Use Timeline

The reasons for the change are to allow CMS and the ONC to do two things: 1) focus efforts on the successful implementation of the enhanced patient engagement, interoperability and health information exchange requirements in Stage 2; and 2) utilize data from Stage 2 participation to inform policy decisions for Stage 3.

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