Originally published: July 21, 2010
Last updated: November 29, 2010 - 11:43am
Standards that define what constitutes an official electronic health record aren't strict enough to justify the billions of dollars in incentives the government plans to pay physicians and hospitals to install the systems, Republican lawmakers said on July 20.
In a hearing of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, officials from the Health and Human Services Department defended the recently released standards, which are known as meaningful use and are requirements and expectations that health providers must meet when applying for funding to pay for the adoption of the e-records. The regulations were designed to accommodate diverse communities looking to move away from paper-based records systems, they said. Some lawmakers expressed concern that the final rule watered down the meaningful use requirements.
The regulations represent a missed opportunity to improve patient care and reduce waste because the standards are lower than expected, said Rep. Wally Herger (R-CA). He said he expected a better return on the $36 billion investment in incentive payments to providers. Witnesses agreed the expected outcome of electronic records adoption is to improve the quality and efficiency of care, but were unable to estimate how much it would cost Medicare and Medicaid. The technology is only one way to reduce waste and must be combined with other activities, they said.
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