Many healthcare entities have financially closed 2015, but there could be loose ends physicians or hospitals have not yet addressed. It is very difficult to stay abreast of the guidelines for Meaningful Use because they are constantly changing. Many struggled in 2014 to meet Meaningful Use Stage 2 even when the participation period was shortened to 90 days. The participation period for 2015 was originally set for 90 days. Flexibility options were released in October of 2015, but it was after October 1st, making it difficult to meet the last 90 day attestation period.
During the last week of 2015, President Obama signed the Meaningful Use Hardship Bill which broadens the options to file for hardship. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released the instructions and the application to file a hardship during the last week of December. The deadline to file a hardship has been extended to July 1, 2016. If approved you will avoid a 3 percent adjustment to Medicare reimbursement in 2017. Some practices will be able to attest to Meaningful Use Stage 1 or Stage 2 with the flexibility rule, you should attest if you were able to update your dashboard and meet the measures.
The Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services have confirmed a practice or physician does not have to be registered in the Electronic Health Record Incentive Program to file for hardship, it is essentially a blanket hardship. All physicians should submit a hardship before July 1, 2016 to avoid the 3 percent adjustment in 2017, we have provided links to the instructions and the application at the end of the article.
Do not delay in reviewing your options to submit the hardship application. The lack of success with Meaningful Use has caused many to believe it has ended. Meaningful Use is expected to morph into the Merit Based Incentive Program in 2018. However, until then we must stay abreast of changes and try to participate, especially if your Medicare payer mix is significant. Check with your vendor for assistance or contact one of our healthcare team members for help.