The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has postponed the deadline for the attestation to Meaningful Use by Eligible Physicians. The deadline was fixed at February 28, but now it is postponed to March 13, 2017. The deadline for Eligible Hospitals was also postponed by CMS recently.
The Electronic Health Records program of Medicare, commonly called as Meaningful Use, is now phased out for the physicians. However, Eligible Physicians will still need to report on Meaningful Use measures for the year 2016. This is to avoid the 3% penalty in 2018. It is reported that about 171,000 physicians will be penalized, as they did not attest to Meaningful Use for 2015.
CMS has not explained why they are pushing back the 2016 attestation deadline. Moreover, they did not specify until November that the Meaningful Use reporting period was 90 days in 2016, rather than the complete calendar year. No hardship exceptions were offered for 2016, so it is likely that CMS is planning to give the EPs all chances to attest before the window closes.
A year ago, the Congress offered physicians some relief on the MU attestation for 2015. This was because the CMS had not released the final rule on Stage 2 Meaningful Use changes until October 2015. The law, called as the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act, spared the physicians from reporting who were not able to attest owing to the late announcement of the changes in rule. Nevertheless, to qualify for this hardship exception, the physicians had to request the same by July 1.
The Meaningful Use attestation for those physicians who take part in the Medicare, but not the Medicaid EHR incentive program, ended on 2016. In 2017, those Eligible Clinicians who do not take part in Advanced Alternative Payment Models of MACRA will transition to Merit-Based Incentive Payment System. In simple terms, MIPS is a pay-for-performance program that will pay doctors based on cost, quality, practice improvement, and Advancing Care Information, which is the successor to MU.
Advancing Care Information has only few measures than the current program and offers more flexibility to meet the criteria. In addition, EPs do not need to meet all the requirements to get credit, as they did under the Meaningful Use program. The deadline to meet the Medicaid portion of the EHR incentive program will differ by state and CMS has urged the participating providers to check with their corresponding states to know on the deadlines.