Meaningful use critic Ellmers loses primary -- to meaningful use critic Holding

by Roy Edroso on Jun 8, 2016

A strong advocate for relieving doctors of their meaningful use reporting burden has lost her House primary election and will leave Congress. But don't despair -- her replacement has largely voted with her on health IT issues. 

Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., was running for the GOP nomination in the 2nd District, which she has represented since 2011. She was beaten June 7 by Rep. George Holding, R-N.C., who represents the 13th District but opted to challenge Ellmers when redistricting moved his district to another part of the state.

Ellmers has been part of a movement among some Congresspeople, mostly Republicans, to spare doctors some of their quality reporting responsibilities. For example, last September she helped draft and co-signed a letter pushing HHS to delay implementation of stage 3 meaningful use. And in April, she collaborated with Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, on a Flexibility in Electronic Health Record (EHR) Reporting Act, which Ellmers claimed would "provide greater flexibility for health care providers who are working to comply with harsh health IT reporting requirements." The Act has yet to receive a vote.

For those reasons, she had a lot of financial backing for her race from medical political action committees (PACs), including those of the AMA and the American Academy of Family Physicians -- about $200,000 in all, according to Politico.

But Holding is not exactly at odds with Ellmers on that score. He also signed that stage 3 letter to HHS. And his voting record on health care issues is similar to Ellmers'. So maybe AMA, AAFP and the rest will just need to sign a different name to their checks this electoral season.

Editor's note: The meaningful use program is posed to become part of the merit-based incentive payment system (MIPS) in January. Get prepared! Sign up today for DecisionHealth's webinar June 15 webinar, How MIPS works and what providers must do to avoid a 4% pay cut.

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