CMS Extends Meaningful Use Hardship Deadline to July 1
Now you have until July 1 to submit your application for a hardship exemption from meaningful use (MU) penalties in 2017, thanks to a recent, unexpected move by CMS. The agency announced that it was extending the hardship submission deadline from March 15 to July 1, 2016.
This gives you plenty of time to apply for the exemption, and you can even apply for the exemption if you believe that your providers were successful in attesting to stage 2 measures for 2015, a CMS official writes in an email to The Business of Medicine.
Note: The agency has already updated the PDF application form, so that it has a submission deadline date of July 1 instead of the original March 15.
New deadline, same process
Some practices were confused about whether the extended deadline changes applications that are submitted after March 15. However, nothing is changing about the actual hardship application process other than the more generous deadline, the CMS official says.
Just as before, if providers believe they were affected by late CMS rulemaking that altered measures and reverted the reporting period from 365 days to a 90-day period for 2015, they should choose “2.2.d” – EHR Certification/Vendor Issues (CEHRT Issues) – as the reason for their hardship, the CMS official says.
Successful attestation overrides exemption
Some AAOE member practices are submitting a hardship exemption even though their providers did attest in 2015, as a kind of safety net in case their attestations are not accepted for whatever reason.
It’s safe to do so, and there is no scenario in which you will be given the exemption and not the incentive payment if you happen to qualify for the payment. “The two are not connected,” the CMS official says. “A hardship does not negate the payment of an incentive.”
— Grant Huang, CPC, CPMA (firstname.lastname@example.org). The author is Director of Content at DoctorsManagement.