About 44K Providers Applied for Meaningful Use Hardship Exemption

CMS announced that about 44,000 health care providers submitted hardship exemption applications for the meaningful use program before the July 1 deadline, Bloomberg BNA reports (Ruoff, Bloomberg BNA, 9/30).

Background

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

The data release follows news reports that a technical glitch in the meaningful use program could inappropriately penalize physicians who recently adopted electronic health record systems (Gold, "Morning  eHealth," Politico, 9/30).

According to recent reports, CMS will not be able to register until mid-October whether providers with new EHR systems can meet meaningful use requirements. Therefore, providers who adopted EHR systems for the first time this year likely will not have their reports registered by the Oct. 1 deadline.

CMS will withhold 1% of Medicare payments for 2015 for providers who miss the deadline (iHealthBeat, 9/19).

Last week, lawmakers and stakeholders called on CMS to fix the glitch (iHealthBeat, 9/23).

CMS has said that providers had sufficient warning to attest to meaningful use by the deadline and could have avoided the penalties if they had filed for hardship exemptions. The agency estimated that only a few providers were affected by technical glitch ("Morning  eHealth," Politico, 9/30).

Details of Hardship Exemption Applications

According to CMS, most of the hardship exception applicants were providers who were new to the meaningful use program and were unable to adopt an EHR system certified under the latest federal standards.

CMS said it would notify providers individually if they have been granted a hardship exemption. However, the agency did not disclose how many exemptions would be granted (Bloomberg BNA, 9/30).

Source: iHealthBeat, Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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