Here is, from page 18 verbatim, the scientific justification for the program. The finest scientific methods were used to achieve these criteria in justification of spending of $15 billion of taxpayer money in "incentives" (probably a low estimate), not counting the additional hundreds of billions the buyers themselves will spend that is diverted from your healthcare to the IT sector:
3. Summary of Costs and Benefits
This final rule is anticipated to have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, making it an economically significant rule under the Executive Order and a major rule under the Congressional Review Act.
Accordingly, we have prepared a Regulatory Impact Analysis that to the best of our ability presents the costs and benefits of the final rule. The total Federal cost of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs between 2014 and 2019 is estimated to be $15.4 billion (these estimates include net payment adjustments for Medicare providers who do not achieve meaningful use in 2015 and subsequent years in the amount of $2.1 billion).
In this final rule we have not quantified the overall benefits to the industry, nor to EPs, eligible hospitals, or CAHs participating in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. Information on the costs and benefits of adopting systems specifically meeting the requirements for the EHR Incentive Programs has not yet been collected and information on costs and benefits overall is limited.
Nonetheless, we believe there are substantial benefits that can be obtained by eligible hospitals and EPs, including reductions in medical recordkeeping costs, reductions in repeat tests, decreases in length of stay, increased patient safety, and reduced medical errors. There is evidence to support the cost-saving benefits anticipated from wider adoption of EHRs.
There's no truly robust evidence of generalizable benefit, no randomized trials, there's significant evidence to the contrary (that, incidentally, is deliberately being ignored), there's risk to safety that this disruptive technology causes in its present state (but the magnitude is unknown, see quotes from 2012 IOM study here) that MU and "certification" do not address, there's a plethora of hair-raising defect reports from the only seller that reports such things, but CMS justifies the program with the line:
"Evidence [on benefits] is limited ... Nonetheless, we believe there are substantial benefits that can be obtained by eligible hospitals and EPs ... There is evidence to support the cost-saving benefits anticipated from wider adoption of EHRs."
I am deeply impressed by the level of rigorous science here. We are truly in a golden age of science.
I recommend NIH, NSF, FDA and all other research and regulatory agencies immediately adopt this rigorous HHS methodology (called the "NWB" methodology for "nonetheless we believe") in their professional pursuits and research grant approval processes.