Home > EHR, meaningful use, Medicare > CMS Meaningful Use Modifications Rule Misses October 1 Deadline – Now What?

CMS Meaningful Use Modifications Rule Misses October 1 Deadline – Now What?

At this writing, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) final rule on EHR Incentive Program modifications for 2015 through 2017 remains under White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regulatory review. In reality, time ran out before October 1 because of the need for an extra cushion to allow for adequate analysis, planning, and implementation of the new flexibility in advance of the reporting period start date.

What does this final rule’s delay mean for Meaningful Use (MU) in 2015?

CMS submitted the final modifications rule to OMB on September 3. OMB regulatory reviews of lengthy rulemakings do not often happen within 30 days, so CMS staff would/should have known upon submission that this outcome would have been likely. Given this, it is possible that the final rule could have included additional flexibility with the reporting period timing that was not included in the proposed rule.

Hope aside, if physicians were left without future options for MU in 2015 because the final rule was published after the last opportunity to begin a 90-day reporting period, this would be an extremely negative outcome with widespread financial implications across the provider world. CMS signaled very strongly and publicly in late January 2015 that a 90-day reporting period was coming in 2015. MU participants probably stopped pursuing their yearlong reporting periods at that time in anticipation of having better MU compliance pathways in the future.  Thus, if additional timing flexibility is not provided in this imminent final rule, I expect to see MU participation dip dramatically in 2015, perhaps even to its lowest levels.

In response to this delay, the AMA is calling for CMS to provide an automatic hardship exception for all noncompliant physicians in CY 2015. The vast majority of ACR’s members are already covered by the automatically awarded hardship exception based on primary PECOS specialty code. We should know more about this situation when the final rule hits the Federal Register public inspection desk… soon?

Categories: EHR, meaningful use, Medicare

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