CMS Extends Hardship Exemption Deadline

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has extended the deadline for providers to file for hardship exemption from the Meaningful Use requirements for its electronic health record incentive payment program to July 1, 2016 instead of March 15, 2016. Here’s what you need to know:

Who can file an application for Hardship Exemption?

Hospitals, Critical-access hospitals (CAHs), physicians and other eligible professionals (EPs) can file their applications. The exemption has been granted so providers have enough time to submit their applications to avoid adjustments to Medicare payments in 2017.

What are the criteria for Hardship Exemption?

Hardship exemption is granted for reasons such as unavailability of federally tested and certified software capable of meeting government requirements such as lack of control over the Certified EHR Technology (“CEHRT”), or EHR certification/vendor issues or lack of face-to-face patient interaction or follow-up.

It can be granted if providers have problems of internet connectivity or suffer natural disasters. That’s not all, closures of practice or hospital due to extreme and uncontrollable conditions, and bankruptcy and debt restructuring also due to extreme and uncontrollable situations could also ensure Hardship exemptions are granted.

What’s the new application process like?

CMS has published new application forms that are more streamlined and reduce the amount of information that must be supplied to apply for an exception. You may download the new instructions and application forms at the CMS payment adjustment and hardship information page.

The new streamlined application process is a result of Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act (PAMPA), which was signed into law in Jan, 2016. CMS claimed that the new law would ensure flexibility in applying the hardship exception for meaningful use for the 2015 EHR reporting period – affecting Medicare payment penalties in 2017.

For more information on Stage 3 of the EHR Meaningful Use standards and the Hardship Exemption and Rules, you may like to attend this On-demand webinar by expert speaker Wayne J. Miller, a founding member of the Compliance Law Group, Los Angeles, a law firm focused on health care industry legal compliance for clients nationwide.

 

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