In a draft letter released June 8, 2011, the Meaningful Use Work Group of the Health IT Policy Committee recommended a one-year delay in the implementation of Stage 2 meaningful use criteria.  Under the Medicare and Medicaid electronic health records (EHR) Incentives Programs, hospitals and eligible professionals must demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records in order to receive incentives funding.  The work group recommended delaying implementation until 2014 so that hospitals and eligible professionals will have another year to successfully implement the Stage 1 criteria set forth in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) January 2010 Meaningful Use Rule.  CMS is scheduled to issue its Stage 2 Meaningful Use Rule in June 2012, for implementation by eligible hospitals during federal fiscal year 2013.

While the work group expresses support for gradually increasing the standards and criteria necessary for hospitals to demonstrate meaningful use (indeed, the work group requested public comment on potential Stage 2 criteria earlier in 2011), the work group states that implementing the next set of criteria in 2013 will not give hospitals enough time to adapt to the new requirements.  The work group states that maintaining the current schedule will present "a nearly insurmountable timing challenge for those who attest to [Stage 1 of] meaningful use in 2011."

The work group addressed its letter to Dr. Farzad Mostashari, head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), who is also the chairman of the Health IT Policy Committee.  If the work group's recommendations are approved by both the full Health IT Policy Committee and ONC, the recommendations are then submitted to CMS as it crafts the Stage 2 Meaningful Use Rule.  Ultimately, CMS is responsible for setting the Stage 2 criteria and may modify or disregard the recommendations.

The work group's draft letter is available here