MGMA, AMA want MU exemption extension

June 30, 2014 in Medical Technology

Both the American Medical Association and the Medical Group Management Association want extra time for eligible professionals to submit for a meaningful use hardship exemption.

[See also: EHR vendors lag in Stage 2 upgrades]

As it stands, tomorrow, July 1, is the deadline for EPs to apply for a hardship exception, enabling those practices to avoid payment adjustments under the federal EHR Incentive Program.

But in a letter sent this past Friday to the Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services, the two industry groups “strongly” urged CMS Administrator Marilyn B. Tavenner to allow more time.

[See also: Providers welcome meaningful use relief]

CMS’ May 20 notice of proposed rulemaking includes a provision allowing EPs who are unable to fully implement 2014 certified EHR technology to report for the 2014 reporting year using 2011 CEHRT and using 2013 criteria. AMA and MGMA say this “much-needed modification” is key to providers’ continued participation in meaningful use.

But the groups argue that the calendar confuses the issue. “The timing of the proposed rule, with its July 21 closing date for public comments and publication of the final rule not expected until late summer, falls well after the July 1 date for EPs to submit a hardship exception to avoid the 2015 Medicare payment adjustment,” according to the letter.

“Many EPs are working diligently toward successfully meeting the 2014 requirements, but expect to do so later this year and well after the July 1 deadline,” officials from AMA and MGMA argue. “With the expected delay in finalization of the rule, many EPs are unclear as to the MU requirements for 2014 and whether they need to apply for a hardship now before the rule is finalized.”

Moreover, “should an EP be unable to meet the modified MU requirements they will have missed the hardship exception deadline and will be unfairly penalized in 2015.”

Pointing out that just half of Medicare providers have taken part in meaningful use – “placing another 50 percent at risk for these penalties” – AMA and MGMA ask that CMS extend the deadline “to a minimum of 30 days flowing publication of the final rule.”

That extra time would help these practices “fully understand the new rule’s requirements and would provide further encouragement for EPs to continue their participation in this important program,” according to the letter.

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