Prior to adjourning for the holidays, Congress adopted legislation, S. 2425, the “Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act,” which included a provision granting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) the authority to expedite applications for exemptions from Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements for the 2015 calendar year.
In order to avoid a penalty under the meaningful use program, eligible professionals must attest that they met the requirements for meaningful use 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 meaningful use until Oct. 16. As a result, eligible professionals were not informed of the revised program requirements until fewer than the 90 required days remained in the calendar year.
CMS has previously stated that it will grant hardship exemptions for 2015 if eligible providers are unable to attest due to the lateness of the rule. However, under current law, CMS can only grant such exemptions on a case-by-case basis. This means that many eligible professions will be required to apply for exemptions and that CMS will have to act on each application individually.
A provision of the legislation adopted by Congress would grant CMS the authority to process requests for hardship exemptions to physicians through a more streamlined process, alleviating burdensome administrative issues for both providers and the agency.
Many members of Congress played key roles in advancing this provision, including Rep. Tom Price, MD (R-GA), Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), and numerous members of the House and Senate leadership, both Republicans and Democrats, went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that this provision was considered prior to the end of the 2015 Congressional session.