CMS Meaningful Use Website Error Could Mean Penalties for ProvidersA change to the Meaningful Use rules intended to provide flexibility for eligible providers seeking to attest for Meaningful Use may instead result in penalties for some of those providers due to a failure to update CMS’ attestation website.

Industry associations have asked the government to extend the Meaningful Use timeline to alleviate the problem, but CMS has not yet responded.

According to an article in Modern Healthcare, while the exact date that the website will be upgraded is unknown, sources expect the changes to be made by mid-October.

That date, of course, is too late—the current deadline for reporting is Oct. 1.

Providers who will be affected include anyone who enrolled in the Medicare portion of the program for 2014, chose to use 2011 Edition software (or a hybrid of 2011 and 2014 editions) to achieve meaningful use Stage 1, and will be eligible for an expanded hardship exemption approved this year.

They also include those who first participated in the Medicaid portion of the EHR incentive payment program in 2013 (and are therefore required to meet Meaningful Use Stage 1 requirements for the first time this year), are using either 2011 Edition software or a hybrid of 2011 and 2014 editions, and also will be eligible for an expanded hardship exemption.

No one knows how many providers are included in these parameters, but it could number in the thousands. We don’t believe that any MediTouch EPs will be impacted because they will not be attesting using 2011 Edition or hybrid editions of our software. Remember, MediTouch was 2014 certified well in advance of the deadline. MediTouch EPs will be using our state of the art 2014 certified EHR but thanks to the new flexibility rule they have the option of attesting to the 2011 Meaningful Use objectives.

However, what is clear is that failure to attest, unless an exception or extension is provided, will result in a 1% reduction of those providers’ Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements in 2015.

The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) sent a letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner last week asking CMS to update its website and to extend the deadline for at least 30 days, according to an article Medical Economics.

The MGMA said in its letter:

“We understand that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) registration and attestation website has not been modified to reflect the changes included in the recent final rule granting additional reporting options for EPs and will not permit new EPs to attest until well after the Oct.1 deadline. This will result in these EPs unfairly receiving a Medicare payment adjustment in 2015.

“We urge you to immediately:

“• Modify the CMS attestation website to accommodate new EP attestations;

“• Extend the attestation deadline for new EPs a minimum of 30 days beyond when the website modifications are complete and the attestation process is available for new EPs; and

“• Expeditiously communicate these changes to the physician community.”

Congressional Representatives Renee Ellmers (R–North Carolina) and Jim Matheson (D–Utah) also sent a joint letter to CMS, the article said.

“We are concerned that these providers will receive fines, even though they are acting in good faith to meet CMS deadlines,” the letter stated. “Providers nationwide who have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars toward electronic health record software and hardware to comply with CMS’s EHR program will now face the additional and unexpected burden of unreasonable cuts to their reimbursements – simply because of a delay in CMS system updates.”

EHR incentive payments won’t be affected by the problem, say experts, provided the portal is fixed.

If you are a MediTouch user we recommend monitoring this issue, but at this time there is no evidence that you will be impacted by this CMS website “bug”. For more information on the Meaningful Use program, watch our on-demand webinars:

Meaningful Use 2014 Basics – How It Works and How to Prepare

Meaningful Use Stage 2 – Deep Dive