New bill would allow for blanket MU hardship exemptions

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Another new bill aims to ease the burden of Meaningful Use (MU) on providers--this time by allowing the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to grant blanket hardship exemptions for the 2015 reporting period.

The final rule for MU Stage 3 includes the following modifications for 2015 through 2017:

  • Eligible professionals will have just 10 reporting objectives, down from 18 in the previous two stages; and
  • Eligible hospitals will have just nine reporting objectives, down from 20.

The rule also includes a more flexible reporting period, shortening Medicare and Medicaid attestation for eligible professionals and hospitals to a 90-day period in 2015, as well as for new participants in 2016 and 2017. It also moves the reporting period for participants to the calendar year instead of the fiscal year.

Stakeholders have been calling for additional hardship exemptions because CMS took so long to finalize the rule. They argued that there wouldn't be enough time left in 2015 to report for the final 2015 reporting period.

Under this new bill, the Meaningful Use Hardship Relief Act of 2015, CMS would be able to grant blanket hardship exemptions to eligible professionals and hospitals unable to attest to MU Stage 2 of because of CMS' delay in releasing the final rule for program modifications for 2015 through 2017.

CMS currently issues exemptions on a case-by-case basis.

Eligible professionals and hospitals have until late this winter to apply for hardship exemptions for the 2015 program year.