Application Deadline for Medicare EHR Incentive Hardship Exception Extended

Tuesday, March 8, 2016
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On February 26, 2016, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) extended the deadline for eligible hospitals/professionals and critical access hospitals to apply for a hardship exception from the 2015 Medicare Electronic Health Records Incentive Program. The previous deadline was March 15, 2016, but now has been extended to July 1, 2016. “CMS is extending the deadline so providers have sufficient time to submit their applications to avoid adjustments to their Medicare payments in 2017,” CMS said.

Hardship Exceptions.

Certain providers who are eligible to participate in the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program are required to demonstrate meaningful use in either the Medicare EHR Incentive Program or in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program by various deadlines to avoid a payment adjustment penalty in 2017.

The Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act provides that CMS may consider hardship exceptions for categories of eligible professionals and hospitals through a new process. CMS updated its website on February 26, 2016, to provide the new application forms that critical access hospitals (CAHs), physicians and other eligible professionals must complete to file a hardship exception from the Medicare EHR Incentive Program’s meaningful use requirements.

The New Forms.

Prior to the extension, physicians and other eligible professionals, had to file hardship extensions by March 15, 2016, and CAHs by April 1, 2016, in order to avoid adjustments to Medicare payments in 2017. Now, the deadline has been pushed back for all Eps to July 1, 2016. The new forms from CMS require less information to be submitted with the hardship exception applications. According to CMS, the new forms, coupled with the extension should help meet the filing deadline and qualify for the hardship exception.

CMS also anticipates and hopes that the provisions will allow CMS to process applications for the hardship in batches, rather than on a case-by-case basis. This should further facilitate the granting of hardship exceptions.

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Lloyd, Rupa. “Application Deadline for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program Hardship Exception Extended from March 15 to July 1.” AHLA. (March 2, 2016). Web.

“CMS extends deadline to apply for EHR Incentive Program hardship exception.” AHA News. (March 2, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Medicare Electronic Health Records, EHR, EHR Incentive Program, Hardship Exception, deadline extension, the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act, Medicare, Medicaid, critical access hospitals (CAHs), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), eligible professionals (Eps), CMS certification Number, Medicare claims, meaningful use, Medicaid payment adjustments, Medicare audits, Medicare defense attorneys, Medicaid defense attorneys, health law attorneys, health lawyers, health law, The Health Law Firm
The Health Law Firm" is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. - The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
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