AMA Urges CMS to Grant Automatic Hardship Exemptions for Meaningful Use

Oct. 2, 2015
As the Stage 2 meaningful use modification rule has yet to be released, The American Medical Association (AMA) is calling on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to give automatic hardship exemptions for physicians who did not attest to Stage 2 of the meaningful use program this year.

As the Stage 2 meaningful use modification rule has yet to be released, The American Medical Association (AMA) is calling on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to give automatic hardship exemptions for physicians who did not attest to Stage 2 of the meaningful use program this year.

AMA issued a statement on Thursday citing the agency’s delay in releasing the modification rule for the electronic health record (EHR) meaningful use program for 2015 through 2017.

In April, CMS issued a new proposed rule to align meaningful use Stage 1 and Stage 2 objectives and measures with the long-term proposals for Stage 3. The proposed rule would streamline reporting requirements and would shorten Medicare and Medicaid meaningful use attestation for eligible professionals and hospitals to a 90-day reporting period in 2015.

 “The AMA welcomes and supported the proposed changes, but it’s now Oct. 1 and CMS has left physicians without any guidance or assurances that they will be capable of meeting program requirements before the end of the year,” Steven Stack, M.D., president of the AMA, said in a statement.

CMS sent the final rules for both meaningful use Stage 3 and Stage 2 modifications to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review on Sept. 3.

“The AMA has regularly stressed that CMS must finalize meaningful use modifications well ahead of Oct. 1 to provide the time that physicians need to plan for and accommodate these changes, yet CMS has continued to delay finalizing this rule. As a result, many physicians who were counting on this flexibility will be subject to financial penalties under the rules currently in place. The AMA is asking CMS to create an automatic hardship exemption as soon as possible so that physicians are not penalized for regulatory delays that are outside their control,” Stack said.

And AMA is not the only organization expressing concerns about the delayed final rule for program modifications.

Last month, the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) called on CMS to extend the 2015 reporting period into the first quarter of 2016.

As Healthcare Informatics previously reported, MGMA, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and other industry groups sent a letter to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell last month stating, “The October 3rd deadline to begin the final possible 90-day reporting period in calendar year 2015 is fast-approaching. If providers do not receive the Final Rule shortly, it will be very difficult to make workflow adjustments in a timely manner to meet programmatic deadlines and facilitate meaningful use tracking and reporting.”

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