Rep. Tom Price introduces bill to provide 'automatic' MU hardship exceptions for 2015

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) has introduced a bill that would authorize a blanket Meaningful Use hardship exemption for the 2015 reporting period due to the delay in timely publication of the rule altering the requirements for reporting.

The bill, H.R. 3940, has been referred to the Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee on Energy and Commerce. It has six co-sponsors, all Republicans.

Price, a physician, has been vocal in his criticisms of the Meaningful Use program in the past. He was a leading voice in calling for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Management and Budget to delay and refocus Stage 3 until Stage 2 has been evaluated. He also co-hosted the American Medical Association's first town hall meeting in July to enable physicians to share their experiences with lawmakers about EHRs and the Meaningful Use program.

The rule, which was combined with the rule implementing Stage 3, softens the Meaningful Use requirements for 2015-2017, such as reducing the reporting period in 2015 from 365 days to 90 days and adding some reporting flexibility. However, it wasn't released until Oct. 6, causing many to complain that it was issued too late to meet the reporting requirements in 2015.

Patrick Conway, M.D., acting principal deputy administrator at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, indicated in a media call when the rule was released that the deadlines may be extended and that providers can apply for hardship exceptions.

The Medical Group Medical Association had recommended in September that the 2015 reporting period be extended due to the delay in issuing of the rule, noting that there was not enough time to transition to the changes and that the window of time to comply with "unacceptable" and "unrealistic."

To learn more:
- here's the bill