Senate Republicans Are Addressing Sebelius on Issues with Meaningful Use

In an official message to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, four senators, all from the Republican Party, aired their concerns pertaining to the recent adoption of EHRs through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office for the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC)’s meaningful use program. The message has arrived after several weeks ago the Republicans (now from the House of Representatives) have demanded that the meaningful use program would be suspended altogether until further notice.

The message from the Senate is not as crucial as the one that the representatives of the House of Representatives had sent. The message has rather a more nuanced nature and is targeting specifically matters pertaining to the Stage 2 of the meaningful use program. The matters addressed in the message originate from a variety of circulating media reports. For example, the question on reducing or increasing diagnostic testing, the payment policy to providers, the notorious swelling Medicare billing, among other issues touched on in the message. The representatives who filed the letter stress that Stage Number 2 will be affecting the potential direction of health information technology that is being utilized in the United States. Therefore, it will require a clear and substantial understanding of the pressing issues mentioned in the letter in order to be able to perform the best supervision possible.

The letter is penned by the members of the U.S.Senate: Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Pat Roberts (R-Ks.), and John Thume (R-S.D.) and explicitly asks the decision making staff from CMS and ONC to congregate with Senate Finance and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committees, while pointing out a recent debriefing by the official agencies did not provide enough opportunities to establish solid decisions.