Hospitals have made good faith efforts to comply with the multitude of requirements under the federal meaningful use program to adopt Electronic Health Records (EHRs). However, under the current approach, failure to meet any one of the requirements, even by a small amount, results in a large penalty. This is unfair to hospitals diligently working to comply with the requirements and expending significant resources to do so.

That’s why we are so pleased with the draft language unveiled by six senators, led by Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The draft language would provide much-needed relief to hospitals, who are trying to deliver the benefits of a wired health care system to their patients. Specifically, we applaud the language that would allow participants in the program to be deemed meaningful users if they meet 75 percent of the objectives and measures. We also appreciate the inclusion of a 90-day EHR reporting period in 2016 and later years, and the extension of flexibility in applying hardship exceptions.

These changes are particularly important as the payment rules for physicians and other clinicians change under Medicare to provide greater flexibility in how they are expected to use certified EHR technology to support clinical care.  As these changes are implemented, it will be essential to ensure that program requirements are aligned across all participants, including physicians, hospitals, and critical access hospitals. This alignment is vital to ensuring the ability to share information and improve care coordination.

The American Hospital Association has long called for a meaningful use program that supports providers in their ongoing work to adopt and use EHRs. We are pleased to have partners in Congress who share that goal.