Keeping up with CMS' program changes and deadline shifts can be a challenge these days, but usually that means some extra time to complete a task -- and sometimes avoid a penalty.
Such is the case with the agency's recent announcement that it is extending the application deadline for hardship exceptions for the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program.
On Feb. 26, CMS announced that eligible professionals, hospitals and critical access hospitals now have until July 1 to apply for an exemption(www.cms.gov) and avoid a 3 percent slash in Medicare payments in 2017.
Previously, the deadline for physicians was March 15.
CMS noted in the announcement that the new deadline is intended to give providers "sufficient time to submit their applications to avoid adjustments to their Medicare payments in 2017."
The Academy has kept family physicians abreast of frequent announcements about the program. Most recently, CMS clarified physicians' flexibility in applying for hardship exemptions.
In January, the agency announced a new streamlined meaningful use hardship exemption application process.
And also in January, CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt announced at a health care conference that the agency was in the process of "ending meaningful use and moving to a new regime culminating with the MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act) implementation."
However, physicians should keep in mind that until new payment system processes are firmly in place several years from now, they'll have to adhere to ever changing rules and deadlines associated with the meaningful use program.
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