On March 10, 2014, CMS released its applications for Medicare professionals and hospitals seeking a hardship exemption for the Stage 2 meaningful use requirements. In these applications, CMS added “2014 EHR Vendor Issues” to the list of grounds warranting an exemption. The application for eligible professionals can be found here; the application for hospitals can be found here.
Under the EHR incentive program, eligible professionals and hospitals participating in Medicare may be subject to a payment adjustment (i.e., a penalty) if they cannot show meaningful use of EHR in 2014. However, a one-year hardship exemption is available under certain circumstances.
There has been some concern recently that EHR vendors’ inability to obtain certification for EHR technology may prevent some professionals and hospitals from demonstrating meaningful use for the 2014 program year. It appears that CMS has responded to this concern by adding “2014 EHR Vendor Issues” as grounds for a hardship exemption. An exemption for “vendor issues” is available if the professional or hospital is “unable to implement meaningful use due to 2014 EHR certification delays.”
The other grounds for a hardship exemption for eligible professionals and hospitals are “Unforeseen and/or Uncontrollable Circumstances” and “Lack of Infrastructure.” In addition, eligible professionals may receive a hardship exemption if the professional can demonstrate that certified EHR technology is not available in location(s) representing more than 50% of the professional’s patient visits, or if there is a “Lack of [need for] Face-to-Face Interaction” and follow-up with patients.
Hospitals must apply for the hardship exemption by April 1, 2014. Eligible professionals must apply by July 1, 2014.