President Obama signs MU hardship exemption bill into law

With a signature from President Obama, eligible professionals and hospitals participating in the meaningful use program can now apply for a blanket hardship exemption to avoid MU-related reimbursement penalties in 2017.

President Obama signed the bill into law Dec. 28. Congress had passed the bill Dec. 18.

Under the new law, any participant in the MU program can apply for an exemption from meaningful use penalties in 2017. Previously, there were certain criteria and qualifications providers had to meet to apply for exemption. Now, any provider can submit an exemption application.

Dan Golder, DDS, principal at Impact Advisors, told Becker's Hospital Review the exemption offers an obvious relief to providers, but also eases the burden on CMS' administration. The agency no longer has to review hardship exemptions on a case-by-case basis, and the exemption is a way to mitigate growing complexities of the incentive program.

"If you look at how long it took [CMS] to come out with the final rule, some of that may just be the complexity of meaningful use and layers of review," he said. "That might be the biggest thing that, maybe, was overlooked when they started meaningful use: the amount of complexity and administrative burden for both providers and CMS to administer the program."

More articles on meaningful use:

AMA, CHIME want to fix MU based on these 11 recommendations
20 things to know about meaningful use
MU exemption renders the program meaningless: athenahealth's perspective

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