CMS Details Meaningful Use Hardship Exemption Options

March 11, 2014 in News

On Monday, CMS updated language in its fiscal year 2015 hardship exception applications for Stage 2 of the meaningful use program, FierceHealthIT reports.

Background

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers that demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (Bowman, FierceHealthIT, 3/11).

During the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s annual conference last month, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said that the agency would offer more flexibility in hardship exceptions.

Meanwhile, six Republican senators on Thursday sent a letter to Tavenner asking for more details on the hardship exemptions that the agency will grant for providers that need more time to meet meaningful use Stage 2 requirements.

In the letter, the senators said they were “disappointed” with CMS’ decision not to delay Stage 2 and “the lack of clarity about how the exemptions will be administered” (iHealthBeat, 3/7).

Updated Meaningful Use Hardship Language

According to FierceHealthIT, CMS updated the application’s language to allow eligible professionals and hospitals to apply for hardship exceptions in cases of “2014 EHR vendor issues” (FierceHealthIT, 3/11).

In addition to vendor issues, eligible professionals and hospitals can apply for hardship exemptions because of:

  • Lack of infrastructure;
  • Unforeseen/uncontrollable circumstances;
  • Lack of control over the availability of certified EHR technology; and
  • Lack of face-to-face interactions.

Eligible hospitals have until midnight on April 1 to apply for such an exemption, while eligible health care professionals have until midnight on July 1 to apply (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 3/11).

Approved exemptions will be valid for one year, and decisions made by CMS or its designees will be final with no chance for appeal, FierceHealthIT reports (FierceHealthIT, 3/11).

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