Final Rule Should Facilitate Consumer Engagement and Cost Transparency
Contact: Amy Smorodin
March 15, 2010 – The definition of “meaningful use” of electronic health records proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services(CMS)should be simplified, according to comments submitted to CMS by TPI senior fellow Arlene Holen. The complex and evolving definition of meaningful use could slow investment in electronic systems, contrary to the intent of the $14 billion to $27 billion in federal incentive payments to health care providers in the economic stimulus legislation, Holen asserted.
Uncertainties about qualifying for the incentive payments will create confusion regarding what health information systems will become standard and increase the risk for health care providers of investing in the wrong system. Innovation and technical change are hampered by detailed and uncertain regulatory requirements. The final rule should simplify federal requirements and make them consistent with day-to-day practice needs.
Finally, in failing to address cost and price information on health services, the rule misses an opportunity “for improving cost transparency and awareness, which are critical to ‘bending the cost curve’.”
“Rapidly increasing health care costs threaten the nation’s fiscal future and place a heavy burden on individuals and families,” according to Holen. “With a growing share of workers’ total compensation going to health care costs,” the final rule should give greater emphasis to consumer engagement and should encourage price transparency.
“CMS should follow the example of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which is now encouraging health plans participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB) to increase the use of health information technology in offering price and quality information to participants,” she added.
Holen’s comments can be found here.
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