CMS extends meaningful use attestation deadline; physicians still urged to file for hardship exemptions

February 19, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Electronic Health Records Payor Issues and Reimbursement Practice Management 

For physicians who have determined that they can attest to meaningful use for a 90-day reporting period in 2015, despite the late publication of the meaningful use rule, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has extended the attestation deadline by two weeks. The deadline to attest to meaningful use under the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program has been pushed to midnight March 11, 2016, EST. Physicians should note that CMS is only extending the attestation period, not the reporting period, so physicians must have concluded their reporting by December 31, 2015. Physicians participating in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program must attest to meaningful use every year to receive an incentive payment and avoid a penalty.

To attest, providers should submit their data through the CMS registration and attestation system. Physicians may select an EHR reporting period of any continuous 90 days from January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2015. 

The California Medical Association (CMA) recommends that physicians attest during off-peak hours, such as evenings and weekends, to speed up the attestation process. Physicians are also urged to take time now to ensure that their Medicare enrollment information is up-to-date before entering their 2015 attestation data.

As a result of the late publication date of the final meaningful use rules by CMS, CMA encourages all physicians to apply for a hardship exception. Applying for a hardship exemption will prevent physicians from getting a penalty for failing to demonstrate meaningful use.

In mid-December, Congress adopted a last-minute bill that gives CMS the authority to grant a blanket exemption for all eligible physicians who apply for the exemption from the 2015 meaningful use penalties. However, to be covered under the blanket exception, you must submit a hardship exception application for 2015 no later than March 15, 2016.

To help physicians navigate the hardship exemptions process, CMA has published “Meaningful Use Hardship Exception Frequently Asked Questions.” This document answers questions about the blanket exemption, including who should apply, deadlines and more. This free members-only resource is available in CMA's online resource library.


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