CMS Issues Guidance on MU Hardship Exemption Process, Extends Comment Period on Quality Reporting | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

CMS Issues Guidance on MU Hardship Exemption Process, Extends Comment Period on Quality Reporting

February 2, 2016
by Heather Landi
| Reprints

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued further guidance to the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program Hardship Exemption process on its website, specifically clarifying that providers are not required to submit documentation with the new hardship application form for the 2017 payment adjustment.

On its website, CMS posted guidance stating that it does not require eligible providers, eligible hospitals or critical access hospitals to submit documentation for the hardship category selected and it will not be reviewing documentation supporting the application on a case-by-case basis. CMS said it would review applications to record the hardship category selected and use the identifying information provided to approve hardship exemptions for each provider listed on the application.

As reported by Healthcare Informatics Managing Editor Rajiv Leventhal, last month CMS announced it had launched a new, streamlined hardship application process. CMS said the new hardship exception process will reduce burden on clinicians, hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs). These changes are a result of recent Medicare legislation—the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act (PAMPA)—and the agency’s ongoing efforts to improve the program, CMS said

CMS also released another guidance this week clarifying that providers can apply for a hardship exemption from the meaningful use program 2017 payment adjustment because they are unable to meet the requirements of MU for an EHR reporting period in 2015 for reasons related to the timing of the publication of the 2015 through 2017 modifications final rule,. CMS released the meaningful use Stage 2 modifications and Stage 3 final rules in October.

When completing the hardship exemption application, CMS states that providers applying for reasons related to the 2015 rulemaking timing can use sub-category 22.d – EHR Certification/Vendor Issues (CEHRT issues), which is under the existing category 2.2 - Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstances.

“Providers who experienced an issue with their CEHRT related to the rule timing – and any other provider for whom the timing of the rule caused a significant hardship – should select sub-category 2.2d on the 2017 hardship exception application. No additional documentation is required for this selection,” CMS stated.

In late December, President Obama signed the new hardship exemption bill into law, designed to make it easier for healthcare providers to receive hardship exemption from financial penalties for failing to meet Stage 2 meaningful use EHR requirements. The legislation enables CMS to grant hardships not just on a case-by-case basis, but also to 'categories' with the deadline of March 15, 2016 for eligible professionals (EPs) and April 1, 2016 for eligible hospitals (EHs), after which time CMS would still have the case-by-case authority to grant hardship exemptions until July 1, 2016.

The new applications and instructions for a hardship exception from the meaningful use program 2017 payment adjustment are now available here.

Also this week, CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced that CMS extended the deadline for commenting on quality reporting programs and certification of EHR products to Feb. 16.

CMS posted the extension notice on the Federal Register.

Back in December, CMS and ONC issued a request for information (RFI) entitled “Certification Frequency and Requirements for the Reporting of Quality Measures under CMS Programs,” seeking public comment on several items related to the certification of health information technology.

As reported by HCI’s Leventhal, the RFI provides CMS and ONC with an opportunity to assess policy options that could improve the effectiveness of the certification of health IT and specifically the certification and testing of electronic health record (EHR) products used for the reporting of quality measures. Specifically, the RFI is for CMS quality reporting programs such as, but not limited to, the EHR Incentive Programs, the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) Program and the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS). In addition, CMS is requesting feedback on how often to require recertification, the number of clinical quality measures (CQMs) a certified Health IT Module should be required to certify to, and testing of certified Health IT Module(s).

Get the latest information on Health IT and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More

Topics

News

Healthcare Execs Anticipate High Cost Returns from Predictive Analytics Use

Healthcare executives are dedicating budget to predictive analytics, and are forecasting significant cost savings in return, according to new research from the Illinois-based Society of Actuaries.

Adam Boehler Tapped by Azar to Serve as Senior Value-Based Care Advisor

Adam Boehler, currently director of CMMI, has also been named the senior advisor for value-based transformation and innovation, HHS Secretary Alex Azar announced.

Vivli Launches Clinical Research Data-Sharing Platform

On July 19 a new global data-sharing and analytics platform called Vivli was unveiled. The nonprofit group’s mission is to promote, coordinate and facilitate scientific sharing and reuse of clinical research data.

Survey: More Effective IT Needed to Improve Patient Safety

In a Health Catalyst survey, physicians, nurses and healthcare executives said ineffective information technology, and the lack of real-time warnings for possible harm events, are key obstacles to achieving their organizations' patient safety goals.

Physicians Still Reluctant to Embrace Virtual Tech, Survey Finds

While consumers and physicians agree that virtual healthcare holds great promise for transforming care delivery, physicians still remain reluctant to embrace the technologies, according to a new Deloitte Center for Health Solutions survey.

Geisinger, AstraZeneca Partner on Asthma App Suite

Geisinger has partnered with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to create a suite of products that integrate into the electronic health record and engage asthma patients and their providers in co-managing the disease.