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CMS Provides More Detail on Meaningful Use Hardship Exceptions

March 11, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
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“2014 EHR vendor issues” now can be used as reason for application

Just a few days after GOP senators pressed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for more clarification on meaningful use hardship exceptions, the federal agency has provided more details for eligible hospitals and eligible professionals participating in the program.

CMS has made the hardship exception applications for eligible professionals and hospitals available on its website, and added language in both that specifies hardship exceptions can be applied for in the event of "2014 EHR vendor issues." Getting into more detail, the applications read, “During the fiscal year (2014) preceding the payment adjustment year (2015), the hospital's EHR vendor was unable to obtain 2014 certification or the hospital was unable to implement meaningful use due to 2014 EHR certification delays.”

Eligible hospitals will have until midnight, April 1, 2014, to apply for the exception, while eligible professionals will have until July 1, 2014. If approved, an exception will be valid for one payment year. If the hospital claims a hardship exception for the following payment year, a new application must be submitted. Determinations made by CMS or their designee regarding hardship exceptions are final and cannot be appealed.

The letter sent last week by the six Republican senators letter was in response to the comments from Marilyn Tavenner, R.N., chief administrator for CMS at HIMSS14, on the timing of Stage 2 of meaningful use.  At HIMSS, Tavenner said that there would be no added flexibility for upcoming deadlines, as requested by the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) and a number of other stakeholder groups. She did say, however, that the agency would work with organizations to grant hardship exceptions.

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