As we mentioned in our blog post, How the Feds Botched Meaningful Use, Part 2, Congress recognized the impact that CMS’ delayed rule-making in the final quarter of 2015 had on providers and vendors, and acted in bipartisan fashion. The “Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act” (PAMPA), Pub. L. No. 114-115 was signed into law by President Obama on December 28, 2015, which includes a number of Medicare provisions designed to reduce burdens on clinicians, hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) These provisions are part of an ongoing effort to “smooth things over” and improve the Medicare EHR Incentive Program on the part of CMS.
The law will extend the deadline and streamline the application process for the hardship exception from Meaningful Use penalties by reducing the amount of information that must be submitted to apply for an exception. Eligible professionals (EPs), eligible hospitals, CAHs and groups of providers will not be required to submit documentation for the hardship category selected. CMS also won’t review each application on a case-by-case basis, but will rather review applications in order to simply record the category selected and approve the hardship exception for their records.
*There is no need for MediTouch users to apply for the hardship; our software is 2014 compliant and has been certified by an ONC-ACB in accordance with the applicable certification criteria adopted by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. There is virtually no “extra” work to meet EHR meaningful use standards with MediTouch software.
MediTouch users are subject to audit, however – and if you’re a first-time user, attesting for the first time, you can avoid a possible penalty through the hardship exception. You won’t be required to provide any documentation, either.
Sample Portion of the Hardship Application
In addition, CMS has also updated FAQ #12845 to provide additional guidance specific to sub-category 2.2d of PAMPA – Certification/Vendor (CEHRT) Issues, to be used for issues caused by the tardiness of the final Meaningful Use Rule this past October. It is included under the existing category for extreme and uncontrollable circumstances related to the 2015 rule-making timeline; any provider who experienced an issue with CEHRT or significant hardship due to the 2015 timeline should select this sub-category (2.2d) on the 2017 hardship exception application.
Payment adjustments and Hardship information can be found here: https://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Legislation/EHRIncentivePrograms/PaymentAdj_Hardship.html