Meaningful Use Hardship Relief Act of 2015

November 9, 2015

From the AMA:AMA-logo.png

We would like to make you aware that Rep. Tom Price, MD (R-GA) introduced H.R. 3940, the “Meaningful Use Hardship Relief Act of 2015” yesterday.  As you know, in order to avoid a penalty under the Meaningful Use program, eligible professionals must attest that they met the requirements for MU Stage 2 for a period of 90 consecutive days during calendar year 2015. However, CMS did not publish the Modifications Rule for Stage 2 of MU until October 16, 2015 – meaning that by the time eligible professionals were informed of the requirements, fewer than the 90 required days for reporting remained in the calendar year.  

Physicians and hospitals are facing significant financial penalties due to this delay, which leaves less than the allotted time to report in this year.  The new rules also add additional requirements, leaving physicians no time to upgrade systems and change workflows to meet the new program measures in 2015. 
CMS has acknowledged this and has stated in a FAQ document that followed the release of the rule that eligible entities may apply for a hardship exemption if they are unable to attest due to the lateness of the rule.  They have also announced that they will broadly grant these exceptions for 2015.  However, the statue requires that hardship exemptions be granted on a case-by-case basis only.  This means that hundreds of thousands of eligible professions will be required to apply for exemptions and that CMS will be required to act on each application individually.  
It would be both equitable and more efficient for eligible professionals, as well as for CMS, for Congress to allow for an expedited hardship exemption process for participants for the year 2015.  CMS has indicated in Congressional staff briefings that it would welcome providing them with the authority to grant a blanket exception for 2015, which would help alleviate a huge administrative burden.  H.R. 3940 would grant CMS the authority to grant blanket hardship exceptions to physicians, hospitals and other affected providers for 2015.  The AMA strongly supports this legislation.  We ask that your organization consider sending similar letters of support and encourage other members of the House to cosponsor this measure.
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