The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced an extension for some participants in the Medicare Electronic Health Records meaningful use attestation deadline. The extension did not retroactively change any requirement for the date the criteria must have been met, it merely extended the deadlines for data submission for some physicians, eligible professionals and hospitals. The deadline extensions do not apply to the Medicaid portion of the Electronic Health Records incentive payment program. The Medicaid incentive payment program does not incorporate penalties.
Both the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records incentive payment programs were created in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The programs have a significant impact with payments thus far in the amount of over $19 billion to more than 320,000 physicians and other professionals and 4,400 hospitals.
Physician and Eligible Professional Extension
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) extended the deadline for eligible professionals to attest to Electronic Health Records (EHR) meaningful use in 2013. Physicians and eligible professionals will now have until 11:59p.m. on March 31, 2014 to submit their performance data. The new deadline, extended from February 28, 2014, does not change the requirement that the criteria for meaningful use must have been met by the end of the reporting period for the incentive payments, December 31, 2013.
A CMS press release explained that this extension would allow more time for providers to submit their meaningful-use data, receive an incentive payment for the 2013 year and avoid the 1% penalty 2015 payment adjustment.
EPs attesting for the Medicaid program or Physicians Quality Reporting Systems incentive pilot program did not receive an extension and must complete the attestation requirements by the original deadline.
CMS is also offering what the agency is calling a "one-time" extension to hospitals "that may have experienced difficulty attesting" by the November 31, 2013 Medicare meaningful use attestation deadline. To be eligible to participate in the deadline extension hospitals must contact CMS by 11:59p.m March 15, 2014 for assistance.
This extension will allow eligible hospitals to receive incentive payments under the program and avoid the price adjustments effective in 2015.
Like the extension for physicians, the extension for hospitals does not change the deadline for the date the meaningful use criteria must have been met. The implementation deadline for the hospitals program, which operates on the fiscal year, was September 30, 2013.
A Modern Healthcare article discussing the extension is available here.
A Medscape article discussing the extension and incentive payments is available here.
A FierceHealthIT article discussing industry representative opinions on the extension is available here.
A user guide for eligible professionals on meaningful use attestation is available here.
A user guide for eligible hospitals on meaningful use attestation is available here.
The EHR Information Center is Open Monday-Friday from 8:30a.m.-5:30p.m. EST. The toll-free number to reach the center for assistance with meaningful use attestation is 1-888-734-6433.