Feds Push Forward With Controversial Health Rule

The Obama administration is moving ahead with controversial new rules that require doctors to switch to electronic health records or face fees, resisting calls from both parties to delay implementation.

Federal health officials said the final rules released Tuesday will make “significant changes” in the “meaningful use” electronic health records program, such as lowering the number of standards each provider must meet and allowing providers to apply for hardship exemptions.

But the administration will not delay what it calls “Stage 3” of the records program, a move that is already angering vocal Republicans like Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who have repeatedly called for a delay of a year or more.

“The administration has a tin ear,” Alexander, the chairman of the Senate’s health committee, said in a statement Tuesday. “They’ve missed a golden opportunity to develop bipartisan support in Congress… Instead, they’ve rushed ahead with a rule against the advice of some of the nation’s leading medical institutions and physicians.”

The finalized rule does offer a 90-day period for additional comment, which would give some extra time for providers, said Dr. Patrick Conway, chief medical officer at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).