Texas Doctors Ask Congress to Stop “Meaningless Abuse”

Electronic Health Records and Regulations Intrude on Good Patient Care

Nov. 02, 2015   

The nation’s largest state medical society today called on the U.S. Congress to lift “convoluted and tedious” federal regulations that physicians say interfere with patient care.

The president of the Texas Medical Association (TMA) asked for congressional intervention on the latest round of rules requiring physicians to use electronic health records, a program known as “meaningful use.”

“Meaningful Use started out as a well-intentioned attempt to give physicians incentives to adopt electronic health records,” TMA President Tom Garcia, MD, of Houston, said in a letter to Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and the Texas delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives. “No federal program ever bore a more inaccurate name than ‘Meaningful Use.’ It’s no surprise that physicians around the country have begun calling it ‘Meaningless Abuse.’

“The convoluted and tedious electronic health records requirements are certainly not meaningful to doctors nor our patients,” Dr. Garcia added. “Neither the electronic health records nor the Meaningful Use regulations were designed with the realities of medical practice in mind. Together, they leave us clicking more but achieving less.

The letter asked the Texans in Congress to cosponsor and support two bills:

  •  S 2141, the Transparent Ratings on Usability and Security to Transform Information Technology (TRUST IT) Act of 2015 by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.); and  
  • HR 3309, the Flex-IT 2 Act, by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.). 

“We believe Congress must enact legislation that provides positive incentives for physicians to acquire and maintain health information technology,” Dr. 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 Texas action is part of a nationwide physician backlash against meaningful use and mandates to use electronic health records:

  • EHR State of Mind, a video by physician-rapper Zubin Damania, MD (aka ZDoggMD), has drawn nearly 200,000 views. 
  • Almost half of physicians surveyed this year by the Physicians Foundation said electronic health records detract from patient care. 
  • A town hall event hosted by the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Medical Association of Georgia concluded that electronic health records have much potential, but frustrating government regulations like meaningful use have made them almost unusable. 
  • AMA and more than 40 national specialty societies called on Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to put the meaningful use program on pause until the federal bureaucracy can fix its many problems. 

Help us put real meaning back into medical practice,” Dr. Garcia said.

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 48,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.


Contact:  Brent Annear (512) 370-1381; cell: (512) 656-7320; email: brent.annear@texmed.org

Marcus Cooper (512) 370-1382; cell: (512) 650-5336; email: marcus.cooper@texmed.org  

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