Physician Practice

Meaningful use hardship exemption bill passes House and Senate

Physician Practice Insider, December 29, 2015

A bill that allows CMS to expedite physicians’ applications for a meaningful use hardship exemption passed in the House and Senate December 18. The bill, the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act, gives CMS the authority to develop a fast-track process for hardship applications filed before March 15, 2016. The hardship exemption will apply to meaningful use stage 2 requirements for CY 2015. Failure to participate or successfully meet and attest measures in 2015 will result in a penalty adjustment on 2017 Medicare payments.

Hardship applications are currently evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If the bill is signed into law by President Barack Obama, the expedited process would apply only to applications filed before March 15, 2016. Applications filed after that date would revert to the current case-by-case evaluation model. CMS will accept hardship applications for the 2015 reporting period until July 1, 2016.

CMS published the meaningful use stage 3 final rule and modifications to the program for 2015-2017 on October 16.

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