AMA, MGMA to CMS: Extend Deadline to Apply for MU Hardship Exception

The American Medical Association and the Medical Group Management Association wrote a letter Friday to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, asking eligible physicians be given more time to apply for a hardship exception because of the timing of CMS' proposed meaningful use flexibility for struggling providers.

In response to industry calls for more leeway in meaningful use attestation, in May CMS issued a proposed rule that if enacted would allow providers that were not able to fully implement 2014 Edition certified electronic health record technology in time to successfully attest to meaningful use to use 2011 Edition CEHRT or a combination of 2011 and 2014 Edition to attest to either stage 1 or stage 2. Providers would also be able to attest to meaningful use under the 2013 reporting year definition and use 2013's clinical quality measures.

The new rule would be a "much-needed modification" to the meaningful use program, according to the letter, but the timing of the rule leaves providers in limbo — the public comment period for the proposal won't end until July 21, and eligible professionals must apply for the hardship exception by July 1.

"We recommend that the agency extend the deadline for EPs to submit the hardship exception to a minimum of 30 days flowing publication of the final rule," according to the letter. "This additional time would allow EPs to fully understand the new rule's requirements and would provide further encouragement for EPs to continue their participation in this important program."

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