Physicians who face potential Medicare payment cuts in 2017 because they can't meet new requirements for the meaningful use program in 2015 may soon get a reprieve.
Congress has passed legislation that requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to grant a hardship exemption from those penalties to any physician who requests one by March 15. The bill now goes to President Obama for his signature.
CMS released modifications to the meaningful use program in October, including new rules for Stage 2. For 2015, physicians may attest to the program by reporting any consecutive 90 days during the year.
Previously, CMS could provide hardship exemptions on a "case by case" basis. But the legislation's supporters, as well as several medical associations, said the late release of the Stage 2 changes means many physicians do not have enough time to meet the regulations and should be granted an automatic exemption. Failing to achieve meaningful use in 2015 can lead to a reduction in Medicare payments in 2017.
UPDATE: President Obama signed the bill into law on Dec. 28.
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