CMS: Meaningful Use Program Open Despite Government Shutdown, Technical Difficulties

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reiterated today that the shutdown of the federal government should not prevent providers participating in the “meaningful use” EHR Incentive Program from attesting to the program or receive incentive payments prior to the November 30, 2013 deadline.

While some providers have had difficulty accessing the attestation web portal and telephone help line during the government shutdown, now stretching into its third week, CMS has assured the public that they are open and accepting meaningful use submissions.

On October 9, CMS issued a statement saying the partial government shutdown would not prevent the agency from allowing eligible providers to attest or receive incentive payments prior to the November 30, 2013 deadline.

However, some potential attesters have told the Journal of AHIMA that they have been unable to log into the meaningful use Registration and Attestation System, and that calls to the program’s help desk have gone unreturned. Attempts by Journal staff to successfully access the meaningful use system have seen inconsistent results.

When asked about the status of the meaningful use Attestation and Registration Portal, CMS spokeswoman Claire Simon said that the portal is indeed open, as is the help desk that fields technical support calls.

Simon advised users to visit the Registration and Attestation System website at: https://ehrincentives.cms.gov/hitech/login.action

For additional help and information, users can contact the EHR Information Center at 1-888-734-6433 (primary number) or 888-734-6563 (TTY number). The hours of operation are 7:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. (Central Time) Monday through Friday, except on federal holidays.

The statement issued by CMS last week was meant partially to serve as a reminder that the last day eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals can register and submit attestation in fiscal year 2013 for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program is November 30, 2013.

Additionally, the agency stated, payment adjustments will be applied beginning FY 2015 (October 1, 2014) to Medicare eligible hospitals that have not successfully demonstrated meaningful use. The adjustment is determined by the hospital’s reporting period in a prior year.

Eligible providers participating in meaningful use must attest to demonstrating meaningful use every year to receive an incentive and avoid a payment adjustment, the agency stated. CMS advises providers to refer to individual state deadlines for more information.

The clarification follows previous communications from the US Department of Health and Human Services, such as the one issued October 1, outlining agency functions affected by the shutdown.

Click here for more AHIMA coverage of the shutdown and its impact on healthcare services.

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 This article was updated on October 15, 2013.

1 Comment

  1. The Attestation website has been offline for atestation since at least Thursday, October 10, 2013. Attempts to call regarding this and to receive alternate instructions has been met with a prerecorded message, “shutdown until further notice.” Please advise.

    Thank you,

    BJ Ezell, Director Clinical Informatics
    Jackson Health System
    Miami, FL
    email: bj.ezell@jhsmiami.org
    cell: 407.376.9966

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