Advocacy Efforts on MU Hardship Exemption Successful

Prior to adjourning for the holidays, Congress adopted the bipartisan “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 (MU) Stage 2 requirements for the 2015 calendar year. The President signed the bill into law.

Pennsylvania physicians played a role in these advocacy efforts, as nearly 200 of you sent messages to Congress in response to the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s call to action.

Physicians and hospitals were facing significant financial penalties due to a delay in publishing the final regulations for the 2015 MU program. While providers must report MU measures for at least a consecutive 90-day period in 2015, the final rules were not published until mid-October, which left less than the allotted time to report in 2015. The new rules also added additional requirements, leaving physicians no time to upgrade systems and change workflows to meet the new program measure requirements in 2015.

Due to this delay, CMS had announced its willingness to broadly grant hardship exceptions for the 2015 reporting year for providers affected by the lateness of the final rules. However, statute required that providers apply for and be granted exceptions only on a case-by-case basis, requiring individual applications, review, and approval.

A provision of the legislation adopted by Congress 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.