Some Providers Could Face Penalties Under Meaningful Use Glitch

September 19, 2014 in News

A technical glitch in the meaningful use program could inappropriately penalize physicians who recently have adopted electronic health record systems, Politico reports.

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (Allen, Politico, 9/18).

Background

CMS recently released a final rule that will provide additional flexibility by allowing eligible professionals, eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals to use the 2011 Edition certified EHR technology or a combination of 2011 and 2014 Edition certified EHR technology for the 2014 EHR reporting period.

Providers will be able to attest to meaningful use under the 2013 reporting year definition and use the clinical quality measures from 2013. Providers will not be penalized for failing to move to meaningful use Stage 2 during the 2014 reporting period (iHealthBeat, 9/2).

However, physicians will only be able to use older EHR software if they can prove they are meeting the program’s goals by Oct. 1, according to Politico.

Details of Glitch

The problem is that CMS will not be able to register until mid-October whether providers with new EHR systems can meet meaningful use requirements, according to Politico. 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.

According to Politico, it is not clear how many providers will be affected by the glitch, but the number might be in the thousands.

Reaction

CMS has not officially commented on the issue.

However, agency officials have said that providers could have avoided the penalties if they had filed for hardship exemptions.

However, providers say they were unaware they needed to obtain exemptions (Politico, 9/18).

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