Recognition Programs Align With Meaningful Use Final Rule

December 16, 2015 · NCQA

In October, CMS released the Meaningful Use Modified Stage 2 Final Rule, which streamlined requirements to a single set of 10 objectives, to more easily shift practices from Stage 2 to the future Stage 3. NCQA evaluated the impact of CMS updates in order to align its recognition programs with Meaningful Use.

What Did CMS Change?

In the Modified Stage 2 Final Rule, objectives previously included in Stage 2 were either maintained or removed. In the Final Rule, CMS describes its rationale for each change; removed measures were deemed to be “redundant,” “duplicative” or “topped out.” Despite removing them from the program, CMS defended their importance and stated that removal is “in no way intended as withdrawal of an endorsement for these best practices or to discourage providers from conducting and tracking these activities for their own quality improvement goals.” CMS states that although the measures were removed, many factors are addressed in more “advanced function” in the Modified Stage 2 Final Rule (e.g., clinical information, problem list, allergies, blood pressure would all be included in a summary-of-care record).

How Did Changes Affect Recognition?

NCQA responded to these changes by updating its Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) 2014 and Patient-Centered Specialty Practice (PCSP) 2013 Recognition programs. Although the factors did not change, in some areas NCQA will accept a reduced threshold or a demonstration of capability instead of a report. Additionally, several requirements that were dropped from Meaningful Use were retained in the NCQA Recognition programs, to ensure that factors deemed “core” to medical home remained.

NCQA investigated CMS’ rationale for eliminating the measures (to the extent that the information was available), as well as the origin of Meaningful Use-aligned recognition program requirements (i.e., whether the requirement was integrated in NCQA programs before the existence of Meaningful Use). All recommended updates were vetted internally and with NCQA Clinical Programs Committee leadership.

NCQA included updates and policy changes in the November 16 release of the PCMH 2014 and PCSP 2013 Recognition programs. All materials and appendices in NCQA publications were updated to align with the CMS Meaningful Use Modified Stage 2 requirements. Through these changes, we hope to balance the maintenance of critical medical home functions while acknowledging the challenges practices face in complying with Meaningful Use requirements.


For a full list of clarifications in the November 16 release.

For customers who previously downloaded the e-pub, the updated publication is available via the NCQA Download Center.

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