Meaningful Use, Charlie Brown, Lucy and the Football

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By L.R. Huntoon, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.A.N.

Physicians who took the government’s incentive cash to adopt electronic health records are now subject to audits.

All they had to do was sign the attestation that they were complying with meaningful use requirements and the “free” money flowed freely – a total of 20 BILLION DOLLARS since 2011.

But, if the physician misses one little thing in the Meaningful Use requirements, and fails the Meaningful Use Audit, then the physician must return the entire incentive payment for the year audited. And, the whole scam is set up like a bunch of dominoes waiting for that one little push that causes all of them to fall.

If the physician fails a Meaningful Use Audit, they are automatically scheduled to have another Meaningful Use Audit for another year.

Failing one audit after another, going back 6 years, could lead to a lot of money being “clawed back” by the government.

According to an article in The Bulletin (Medical Societies for the Counties of Erie and Chautauqua) Spring 2016 issue “Nearly 50% of the Audited Providers Are Failing” !!!

Most physicians are failing the audits because they did not know that they were supposed to conduct a Security Risk Assessment each and every year they accepted cash from the government. CMS did not provide much guidance on how to comply in the early years of the incentive payments (2011, 2012, 2013). Nothing like retroactive “guidance” to force a physician to sit up and fly right.

But, not to fear. Big Brother will treat you relatively leniently… for now… as they see fit so as to ensure that you will continue playing their Meaningful Use Game. How long that leniency will last is anyone’s guess.

This whole Medicare scam is like watching the Peanuts cartoon characters Charlie Brown and Lucy.

Lucy always convinces Charlie Brown that she will hold the football while Charlie Brown kicks it.

And, every single time, Lucy pulls the football away at the last second and Charlie Brown ends up falling on his back.

Charlie Brown falls for the same scam every time.

Forget about maintenance of certification. What Medicare physicians need to do is start watching more Peanuts cartoons. Maybe after they have seen Lucy pull the football at the last minute and Charlie Brown ending up on his back every time, they will get the idea that the only way to win the game is to opt out.

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