EHR Incentive Program Updates: 2016 Penalties, Streamlined Hardship Exception Process

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services (CMS), 209,000 eligible professionals will be subject to penalties in 2016 under the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program for failing to demonstrate meaningful use. To avoid the penalties, eligible professionals must demonstrate meaningful use in either the Medicare EHR Incentive Program or the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. This CMS fact sheet provides guidance on the 2016 payment adjustment.

Meanwhile, CMS announced that, a new, streamlined EHR Incentive Program hardship exception process is now in place staring with the 2017 payment adjustment. The changes, which stem from the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act, aim to reduce the burden on eligible professionals, eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals. New hardship exception applications and instructions for the 2017 EHR payment adjustment are available here. If you were unable to meet the requirements of the program because CMS announced modifications to the Stage 2 program and reporting period so late in the year, Section 2.2d of the application offers eligible professionals the opportunity to apply for a hardship exception. To take advantage of the new process and this new exception, eligible professionals must submit their applications by March 15, 2016. As part of the changes, groups of providers can now submit a single application to apply for a hardship exception. Eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals must submit applications by April 1, 2016. Additional information is available on the CMS website

Keywords: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (U.S.), Electronic Health Records, Health Expenditures, Hospitals, Meaningful Use, Medicaid, Medicare, Reimbursement, Incentive


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