Meaningful Use Attestation Penalties to Kick In October 1

Reductions in Medicare reimbursement will go into effect October 1, 2016 for eligible hospitals that have not yet attested in the “meaningful use” EHR Incentive Program.

According to a fact sheet released last week by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), hospitals that don’t successfully demonstrate meaningful use for an EHR reporting period associated with a payment adjustment year will receive reduced Medicare payments for that year. The payment adjustments is applied as a reduction to the applicable percentage increase to the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) payment rate, thus reducing the update to the IPPS standardized amount for these hospitals, the fact sheet explained.

According to CMS, 98 percent of eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals across the country have successfully demonstrated meaningful use at either stage 1 or stage 2 of meaningful use.

But for hospitals that haven’t yet attested, payment adjustments by reporting year are as follows: a 25 percent decrease for 2015 (2013 reporting period); a 50 percent decrease for 2016 (2014 reporting period); a 75 percent decrease for 2017 and beyond (2015 reporting period).

For hospitals that have specific difficulties attesting, there are hardship exceptions. CMS provides exceptions as follows:

  • Infrastructure: Eligible hospitals must demonstrate that they are in an area without sufficient internet access or face insurmountable barriers to obtaining infrastructure (i.e., lack of broadband).
  • New eligible hospitals: Eligible hospitals with new CMS Certification Numbers (CCNs) that do not have time to become meaningful EHR users can apply for an exception for one full cost reporting period.
  • Unforeseen Circumstances: Examples may include a natural disaster or other unforeseeable barrier.
  • 2014 EHR Vendor Issues: An eligible hospital’s EHR vendor was unable to obtain 2014 certification or the hospital was unable to implement meaningful use due to 2014 EHR certification delays. Additionally, due to the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act (PAMPA), the new streamlined hardship applications reduce the amount of information that eligible hospitals, eligible professionals, and CAHs have to submit to apply for an exception for calendar year 2016.

Click here to read the CMS fact sheet.

Mary Butler is the associate editor at The Journal of AHIMA.

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