CMS Clarifies EHR Meaningful Use Streamlined Hardship Exemption

As you are aware, following advocacy from ASCRS and the medical community, Congress passed the “Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act,” which included a provision granting CMS the authority to expedite applications for hardship exemptions from Meaningful Use Stage 2 in 2015. On January 22, CMS released information on how to apply for this expedited hardship application. Earlier this week, CMS released additional information, clarifying the streamlined hardship exemption process.

First, CMS released an FAQ outlining the documentation requirements for submitting the new hardship application. FAQ 14113 states that CMS does not require a provider to submit documentation with the hardship exemption, and CMS will not be reviewing documentation supporting the hardship applications on a case-by-case basis. They do note, however, that providers should retain documentation of their circumstances for their own records.

In addition, CMS updated FAQ 12845 to provide additional guidance to the specific hardship exemption sub-category 2.2d, EHR Certification/Vendor Issues. CMS clarifies that this category can be used for issues related to the 2015 rulemaking timeline. Providers who experienced an issue due to the delayed release of the Stage 2 Modifications Rule should select sub-category 2.2d on the 2017 hardship exemption application.

All providers who have EHR, and were planning to attest for Meaningful Use this year, have the option to fill out a hardship exemption. If providers fill out a hardship exemption and also successfully attest for Meaningful Use, their successful attestation will be counted. Eligible professionals have until March 15, 2016 to submit their application.

Please contact Ashley McGlone, manager of regulatory affairs, at 703-591-2220 if you have any questions.