Meaningful to You: Meaningful Use Hardship Exemptions to Stage 2

Over the past few years, many eligible providers were successful in meeting Meaningful Use requirements for Stage 1. Eligible providers found it extremely problematic, however, to meet Meaningful Use requirements for Stage 2.

It did not help providers that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, (CMS) continued to revise the MU requirements for S2. 

Due to the continual modifications of these requirements and the delays finalizing the rule (released October, 2015); eligible providers argued they would not be able to provide necessary data for the final 2015 reporting period due to insufficient notice of final program modifications. 

Good news:  For those still having difficulties meeting MU requirements for S2, Congress approved and the President has signed into law the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act, S. 2425. This allows healthcare professionals to obtain a MU hardship exemption for the 2015 reporting year, and thus, avoid a 3 percent Medicare payment adjustment in 2017. Eligible providers will now have until March 15, 2016 to apply for an exemption.

Key points regarding proposed final modifications to the Meaningful Use requirements for Stage 2 include:

  • Eligible professionals will have just 10 reporting objectives, down from 18
  • A more flexible reporting period. For example, the rule shortens Medicare and Medicaid meaningful use attestation for eligible professionals to a 90-day period in 2015, as well as for new participants in 2016 and 2017
  • A reporting period for participants that moves to a calendar year instead of a fiscal year
  • Statement that the requirements for Stage 3 of the Meaningful Use program are optional in 2017 and required for all participants beginning in 2018
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