October 08, 2014
Area(s) of Interest: Payor Issues and Reimbursement Practice Management Public Payors
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it is reopening the submission period for meaningful use hardship exception applications so that physicians can avoid the 2015 payment penalty. The new deadline will be November 30, 2014.
As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Congress mandated payment adjustments under Medicare for eligible professionals that are not meaningful users of Certified Electronic Health Record Technology (CEHRT). The Act allows the Secretary to consider, on a case-by-case basis, hardship exceptions for eligible professionals to avoid the payment adjustments.
While all Medicare physicians have until February 28, 2015, to attest to any 90-day reporting period in 2014 to obtain a meaningful use incentive, Medicare physicians who started the program this year were required to attest by October 1, 2014, to avoid a penalty of up to 2 percent in 2015. Those new to the program can now apply for a hardship exception to avoid this penalty if they missed the October 1 deadline. This reopened hardship exception application submission period is only for eligible professionals who:
- Have been unable to fully implement 2014 Edition CEHRT due to delays in 2014 Edition CEHRT availability; AND
These are the only circumstances that will be considered for this reopened hardship exception application submission period. Applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EST on November 30, 2014.
The hardship exception, however, only provides relief from the meaningful use penalty and will not earn you an incentive. If you are prepared to attest by February 28, 2015, you can still apply for a hardship exception as a fallback precaution to avoid the penalty. The American Medical Association believes this hardship exemption will be interpreted broadly by CMS and therefore encourages all physicians who meet the criteria to apply by the November deadline.
Visit the Payment Adjustments and Hardship Exceptions webpage for more information about Medicare EHR Incentive Program payment adjustments.
The CMS EHR Information Center can be reached at (888) 734-6433 and is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. (Central Time), except federal holidays.