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Practice Fusion · Feb 29, 2016

2015 Hardship Exception Application for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program

Updated: February 29th, 2016

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has just announced that they are extending the application for hardship exemptions from March 15, 2016 to July 1, 2016. Providers will now have more time to apply for hardship exemptions from its electronic health record incentive payment program meaningful use requirements.

There were several reasons why CMS is giving providers additional time to submit applications and avoid adjustments to their Medicare payments in 2017. Some providers were having difficulty in reporting in 2015 because CMS did not release its final rule on stage 2 meaningful use changes until early October. By the time the rules came out, there were less than 90 days left to measure performance. Also, there are new application forms for hardship exception. CMS will also be more lenient for hardship exemptions including issues with internet connectivity, lack of availability to certified software and lack of face-to-face patient interaction.

The deadline for attesting to meaningful use has also shifted from February 29 to March 11. CMS made this update to align the meaningful use attestation deadline with that of the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS). The alignment of dates gives physicians an opportunity to report once to the two programs, which now share the same quality measures.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is allowing providers who submit a hardship exception application to still attest to the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program for the 2015 EHR Reporting Period.

Submission of a hardship exception application by the July 1, 2016 deadline does not prevent providers from attesting and receiving an incentive payment if meaningful use requirements are met. Attestation for the 2015 EHR reporting period is currently open. CMS urges providers to try to attest by the March 11, 2016 attestation deadline. If providers attest successfully, they will avoid the payment adjustment in 2017 and may also be eligible to receive an EHR incentive payment.

However, if providers cannot attest for a 2015 reporting period— or if they believe their attestation may be unsuccessful—then they may apply for a hardship exception to avoid the payment adjustment in 2017. The application will not prevent providers from earning an incentive if their attestation is successful. The deadline to submit a hardship exception application is March 15, 2016 for eligible professionals.

Practice Fusion is excited to partner with providers and to provide you with our EHR and resources to be successful with attestation.