CMS Clarifies MU2 Hardship Exceptions

CMS has released an updated application for meaningful use hardship exceptions, providing clarification on the new requirements for obtaining an exception and avoiding financial penalties for failure to attest in 2014.

In response to industry pleas for a more relaxed timeline for the meaningful use program, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner announced in late February that meaningful use stage 2 will proceed as scheduled, but there will be some flexibility in hardship exceptions granted to providers struggling with the looming deadline for 2014 attestation.

The new application allows eligible hospitals and professionals to apply for the exception in the event of "2014 EHR vendor issues," paving the way for extensions for hospitals whose electronic health record vendors either were unable to obtain 2014 Edition certification or that were unable to successfully achieve meaningful use due to vendor delays.

Vendor delays have been a main aspect of industry stakeholders' calls to delay or increase flexibility in the meaningful use stage 2 timeline. In a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, close to 50 industry groups said their concerns about the current timeline were due in large part to vendor unpreparedness. "It is clear the pace and scope of change have outstripped the ability of vendors to support providers. This inhibits the ability of providers to manage the transition to the 2014 Edition certified EHR technology and stage 2 in a safe and orderly manner," according to the letter.

Eligible hospitals have until April 1, 2014 at midnight to apply for a hardship exception.

More Articles on Meaningful Use:

MU Requirements to Double Data Sent to Public Health Departments
GAO Takes Aim at EHR Incentive Programs
6 Senators Press for Clarification on MU Hardship Exemptions

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