Texas docs plead for relief from ‘meaningless abuse’


By Joseph Conn  | November 2, 2015

The Texas Medical Association wants Congress to intervene and make changes to the federal electronic health-record incentive payment program it’s calling “meaningless abuse.”

The group says Stage 3 of the program meant to get physicians using EHRs could jeopardize Medicare doc payment rules.

The TMA, the largest state medical association in the country, wants Congress to lift what it’s describing as the $31.6 billion program’s “convoluted and tedious”meaningful-use requirements.

In a letter Texas’ two U.S. senators, John Cornyn, and Ted Cruz, and to the Texas delegates to the House of Representatives, TMA President Dr. Tom Garcia asked legislators to co-sponsor two bills to alter the meaningful-use landscape.

One is the Flex-IT 2 Act by Rep. Renee Ellmers, (R-N.C.), which would delay Stage 3 meaningful-use rules until at least Jan. 1, 2017. The other is the Transparent Ratings on Usability and Security to Transform Information Technology, or TRUST IT Act by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) which is aimed at ensuring health IT systems perform better in the field.

“We believe Congress must enact legislation that provides positive incentives for physicians to acquire and maintain health information technology,” Garcia wrote. “Until electronic health records truly add value to medical care and can seamlessly interact with other systems, we want Congress to reform the program and eliminate federal mandates that compel physicians to engage in unnecessary activities and reporting.”

The TMA went on to stress that numerous other organizations and individuals are protesting the implementation of Stage 3.

“EHR State of Mind,” a video by physician-rapper Dr. Zubin Damania has drawn nearly 200,000 views, according to the medical society. The TMA also pointed to a town hall event hosted by the American Medical Association and the Medical Association of Georgia which concluded that EHRs could be helpful, but that government regulations like meaningful use have made them almost unusable.

“Help us put real meaning back into medical practice,” Garcia wrote.