CMS Extends Deadline for Meaningful Use Attestation

The deadline for eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals to attest to meeting meaningful use requirements has been pushed back a full month, according to CMS.

The deadline for eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) to attest to meeting meaningful use requirements has been pushed back a full month, according to CMS.

The new deadline to receive incentive payments for the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program 2014 is now 11:59 pm EST on December 31, 2014, extended from the original November 30 deadline.

“This extension will allow more time for hospitals to submit their meaningful use data and receive an incentive payment for the 2014 program year, as well as avoid the 2016 Medicare payment adjustment,” according to CMS.

Payment adjustments will be applied October 1, 2015, which is the beginning of fiscal year 2016, for eligible hospitals that did not demonstrate meaningful use in 2014.

The deadline for eligible hospitals and CAHs electronically submitting clinical quality measures to meet meaningful use requirements is also extended to December 31. However, the extension does not impact the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program deadline.

Although CMS did not explain why it was providing an extra month for eligible hospitals and CAHs to attest to meaningful use in order to receive an incentive payment, there is some speculation that the low numbers of providers attesting to meaningful use had something to do with the decision.

Recently, officials from the American Medical Association (AMA), the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, and the Medical Group Management Association called for CMS to relax the stringent restrictions for the meaningful use program.

According to the AMA, the meaningful use program needs a more flexible approach for meeting meaningful use and should better align quality measure requirements. The program’s “all-or-nothing” approach is preventing thousands of physicians from participating, according to AMA President Robert M. Wah, MD.

"The whole point of the EHR incentive program was to build an interoperable health information technology infrastructure that would allow for the routine exchange of important medical information across settings and providers and put medical decision-making tools in the hands of physicians and patients, yet that vision is not being realized and the lack of interoperability is stifling quality improvement," Dr Wah said in a statement in October.

The new deadlines for incentive payments and for clinical quality measure submissions come just a few weeks after CMS added a new hardship exception for eligible providers to avoid penalties for failing to meet meaningful use as part of the Medicare EHR Incentive Program. Eligible professionals and eligible hospitals have until November 30 to apply for the extreme and uncontrollable circumstances hardship exception.