Health care providers want assurances that a proposal intended to give them flexibility in the federal government’s electronic health record incentive program won’t come back to bite them in future audits.


The American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association were two of the more than 1,000 groups and individuals that commented this week on a proposal  by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid that would let meaningful use program participants use EHRs certified under 2011 standards.


Providers already are supposed to be using EHRs certified against 2014 standards. But stories abound, particularly from hospitals, of EHR initiatives grinding to a halt this year as providers wait for software upgrades and fixes that meet the 2014 certification criteria.  


While providers are grateful for the proposed flexibility, they’re also worried they could be asked to meet narrow exceptions for needing the extra time to upgrade their EHRs, with some calling for the proposed justifications be scrapped entirely. Instead, they said, providers should be allowed to simply attest to needing the extra time.


Meanwhile, even if they get those assurances, providers face a final rule coming too late in the year to give them the relief they’re needing.