The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance on qualifying for the hardship exception from Stage 2 meaningful use requirements under the federal electronic health record incentive payment program. CMS has been under pressure by stakeholders and lawmakers alike to provide clarification about how to apply and what conditions qualified hospitals and eligible professionals for a hardship exemption
The guidance explains that CMS may grant hospitals and eligible professionals the hardship exception and grant an extension for meeting the Stage 2 meaningful use requirements if their electronic health record (EHR) vendor is at fault for their failure to meet the deadline. This expands on previous statements by CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner that the applications for exceptions would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
The guidance specifically states that providers may apply for hardship exceptions if the "EHR vendor was unable to obtain 2014 certification" or the hospital or eligible professional "was unable to implement meaningful use due to 2014 EHR certification delays." If approved, the hardship exception is valid for a single payment year. In the event the application for exception is denied hospitals and eligible professionals may not appeal the decision and any denial is considered final.
The hardship exception application for hospitals is available here.
The hardship exception application for eligible professionals is available here.