Note: Payment Adjustment is the phrase CMS uses for Medicare Payment Penalties. The following is information posted by CMS in a recent bulletin.

Medicare eligible professionals (EPs) who do not demonstrate meaningful use for the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program may be subject to payment adjustments beginning on January 1, 2015. Because payment adjustments are mandated to begin on the first day of the 2015 calendar year, CMS will determine the payment adjustments based on meaningful use data submitted prior to the 2015 calendar year.

These meaningful use penalties will be applied to the Medicare physician fee schedule amount for covered professional services furnished by the EP in 2015. EPs who do not demonstrate meaningful use is subsequent years will be subject to increased payment adjustments in 2016 and beyond.

EPs that began participation in 2011 or 2012
EPs who first demonstrated meaningful use in 2011 or 2012 must demonstrate meaningful use for a full year in 2013 to avoid payment adjustments in 2015.

EPs that begin participation this year (2013)
EPs who first demonstrate meaningful use in 2013 must demonstrate meaningful use for a 90-day reporting period in 2013 to avoid payment adjustments in 2015.

EPs that plan to begin participation in 2014
EPs who first demonstrate meaningful use in 2014 must demonstrate meaningful use for a 90-day reporting period in 2014 to avoid payment adjustments in 2015. This reporting period must occur in the first 9 months of calendar year 2014, and EPs must attest to meaningful use no later than October 1, 2014, in order to avoid the payment adjustments.

Note: EPs must continue to demonstrate meaningful use every year to avoid payment adjustments in subsequent years.

The important points of this bulletin are:

  1. If you met Meaningful Use in a prior year – you must also attest this year to avoid penalties
  2. All penalties will begin to be assessed in 2015, but they are based on prior year(s) performance
  3. In 2014 all providers have just a 3 month measurement period
  4. If 2014 is the first year that you attest to Meaningful Use, you must attest no later than Oct 1, 2014

The “stick phase” of Meaningful Use is now beginning – get started if you have not yet so that your practice can take advantage of the incentive or “carrot phase” of the Meaningful Use program.