CMS Extends Meaningful Use Hardship Extension Where Vendor Delayed with Certifying EHR Technology.

deadline.png[THIS POST CORRECTS EP's DEADLINES.]

CMS announced Monday that eligible hospitals and eligible professionals (“EPs”) participating in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs (“Meaningful Use”) may apply for a Hardship Exception if they are experiencing 2014 certified EHR technology vendor delays.  The guidance comes in the wake of CMS’s refusal to delay Meaningful Use Stage 2.  CMS had previously indicated that it would consider expanding the available hardships to providers experiencing problems implementing 2014 certified EHR technology. 

Limited Hardship Exceptions are available for Meaningful Use participants to avoid Medicare payment adjustments in the event they fail to demonstrate Meaningful Use. A hardship may be granted for 1 year upon receipt of a Hardship Exception application and proof of the hardship. For example, a hospital that applies for and is granted a Hardship Exception from demonstrating Meaningful Use in 2014 would not receive a payment adjustment in 2016, but would have to demonstrate Meaningful Use in 2015 or re-apply for a Hardship Exception in order to avoid a payment adjustment in 2017.

For new hospitals that have not previously participated in Meaningful Use, the deadline to submit a Hardship Exception application to avoid the 2015 payment adjustment is April 1, 2014.  THEREFORE, HOSPITALS LOOKING TO START PARTICIPATING IN MU FOR THE FIRST TIME BUT ARE EXPERIENCING DELAYS WITH THEIR VENDOR'S EHR CERTIFICATION MUST ACT NOW TO FILE FOR THIS HARDSHIP EXCEPTION.

For returning hospitals that previously participated in Meaningful Use, the deadline to submit a Hardship Exception application is April 1, 2015.

The deadline for new EPs is July 1, 2014, and for returning EPs July 1, 2015.

CMS is only accepting Hardship Exception applications for the 2015 payment adjustment at this time.  For a copy of the EP or hospital guidance and application documents, visit the CMS EHR Incentive Page, http://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Legislation/EHRIncentivePrograms/PaymentAdj_Hardship.html

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