As Meaningful Use Reporting Deadline Approaches, CMS Announces Hardship Exception Figures

Roughly 44,000 providers applied for hardship exceptions from the meaningful use program this year in hopes of avoiding a Medicare penalty next year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said Sept. 29.

The vast majority of hardship exception applicants were new to the meaningful use program and claimed they were unable to adopt an electronic health record certified under the latest federal standards, the CMS said. Providers eligible to participate in the meaningful use program who fail to meet the program's requirement by Oct. 1 and who also failed to meet the program's requirements in 2013 will be subject to a one percent reduction in Medicare payments for Part B claims in 2015, according to the CMS.

Applications for hardship exceptions were due July 1. The CMS is notifying providers individually if their applications were granted, the agency said. The CMS did not say how many of the hardship exception applications were granted.

Industry groups have complained to the CMS that thousands of their members have been unable this year to adopt an EHR system certified under the 2014 Edition criteria, which replaced the 2011 Edition as the criteria under which EHR systems must be certified in order to be used in the meaningful use program.