The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Tuesday it would reopen the submission period for hardship exception applications in the electronic health record (EHR) meaningful use program, allowing more physicians to avoid next year’s payment adjustments for not demonstrating meaningful use. The new deadline is Nov. 30.
Previously, the hardship application deadline was April 1 for hospitals and July 1 for physicians. This new opportunity is particularly helpful for physicians who have never participated in the meaningful use program, as they will face penalties in 2015 if they did not attest by Oct. 1. The agency reopened the submission period as a result of AMA advocacy.
“Giving physicians more time to file for a hardship exemption provides necessary relief as many physicians are struggling to meet a number of reporting mandates to avoid multiple penalties,” said AMA President Robert M. Wah, MD, in a statement. “The AMA remains committed, however, to ensuring that the meaningful use program requirements are in fact meaningful and deliver the intended improvements in patient care and practice efficiencies. We look forward to continuing to work with the Administration to make the program requirements more flexible and ensure physicians have certified products that better support their practices and patients’ needs.”
The reopened hardship exemption application submission period is for physicians and hospitals that both:
- Have been unable to fully implement 2014 Edition certified EHR technology due to delays in availability of such technology
- Who were unable to attest by Oct. 1 (for physicians) or July 1 (for hospitals) using the flexibility options CMS implemented in September that allow physicians to use older certified EHR technology for attestation
CMS will only consider these circumstances for the reopened application submission period.
Physicians who seek to avoid the 2015 penalty can read more about the hardship exemption categories at AMA Wire®.
CMS’ decision to reopen the hardship reporting period for physicians in this situation represents an important chance for Medicare physicians who have not yet participated in the meaningful use program to avoid a financial penalty in 2015. Any physician who wants to attest for a 90-day reporting period to obtain an incentive for 2014 can still do so—the deadline is Feb. 28—and can apply for a hardship exemption as a back-up plan.
Find more information on CMS’ payment adjustments and hardship exceptions Web page.