New Deadline to Apply for Meaningful Use Hardship Exception

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will reopen its meaningful use hardship exception application for physicians and hospitals to avoid the 2015 penalty. Following advocacy efforts by the American Medical Association, the new deadline is Nov. 30. The hardship exception application deadline had been April 1 for hospitals and July 1 for physicians.

For more information and a link to the hardship exception application, visit the CMS website.

While all Medicare physicians have until Feb. 28, 2015, to attest to any 90-day reporting period in 2014 to obtain a meaningful use incentive, Medicare physicians who started the program this year had to attest by Oct. 1 to avoid a penalty of up to 2 percent in 2015. Those new to the meaningful use program who missed the Oct. 1 deadline can now apply for a hardship exception to avoid this penalty. 

In addition, those physicians planning to attest by Feb. 28, 2015, can still apply for a hardship exception as a fallback precaution to avoid the penalty. 

The hardship exception, however, only provides relief from the meaningful use penalty. It will not earn physicians an incentive. Meaningful use incentives are still available for those who are able to meet and attest to the Stage 1 or Stage 2 measures by the February deadline. 

This reopened hardship exception period is for Medicare physicians and hospitals that: 

  • Have been unable to fully implement 2014 Edition certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT) due to delays in 2014 Edition CEHRT availability; and
  • Physicians who were unable to attest by Oct. 1 and hospitals that were unable to attest by July 1 using the flexibility options provided in the CMS 2014 CEHRT Flexibility Rule.

The CMS 2014 CEHRT Flexibility Rule allows physicians to use older certified EHR technology (version 2011), a combination of old and new technology (versions 2011 and 2014), or just new technology (version 2014) to attest for their 2014 reporting period. Visit the TMA website for a more in-depth review of the rule.

The CMS system was not ready to accept attestations by Oct. 1, the last date Medicare physicians new to meaningful use could attest to avoid a penalty. AMA says this is part of the reason CMS reopened the hardship filing period, ensuring more doctors avoid a 2015 penalty.

CMS is offering a new webinar on Nov. 19 at noon CT on the 2014 CEHRT Flexibility Rule. 

TMA recently reported that CMS modified the meaningful use reporting requirements for 2014 if the EHR vendor did not successfully update and certify its system to allow for timely reporting. This webinar provides instructions on how physicians can use the CEHRT Flexibility Rule to report for 2014.

The webinar will kick off with an overview of CEHRT by David Nilasena, MD, CMS chief medical officer for Region VI, which includes Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana. 

Once you register, you'll receive an appointment notice that includes information on how to connect to the webinar. 

If you have questions, email Ceceilia Robl. Include "November CEHRT webinar" in the subject line of your email.  

Action, Oct. 31, 2014

Last Updated On

October 19, 2015