Doc groups urge extension of MU hardship application deadline

The American Medical Association (AMA) and Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) have sent a joint letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services beseeching the agency to extend the hardship exemption application deadline for eligible professionals (EPs). The current deadline is July 1. 

In the letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, the associations said they appreciated the agency's proposed rule issued May 20 providing for some flexibility in attesting in 2014, but pointed out that public comments aren't due until July 21 and the final rule won't be released until late summer, well after the headship exception deadline.

"With the expected delay in finalization of the rule, many EPs are unclear as to the MU requirements for 2014 and whether they need to apply for a hardship now before the rule is finalized," the letter states. "Should an EP be unable to meet the modified MU requirements they will have missed the hardship exception deadline and will be unfairly penalized in 2015. To date fifty percent of Medicare EPs have participated in the MU program, placing another fifty percent at risk for these penalties."

The associations "strongly urge" CMS to extend the deadline and recommend that it be pushed back to at least 30 days after publication of the final rule to allow time for EPs to understand the new rules and to provide "further encouragement" for them to continue to participate in the Meaningful Use program.

The letter mirrors to some extent the American Hospital Association's comment letter on the proposed rule, which also expressed concern that the late timing of the rule would be of limited benefit to hospitals. Many providers have run into trouble transitioning to 2014 certification criteria, in large part because the vendors have not had sufficient time to upgrade their software.

To learn more:
- read the letter (.pdf)