Also affected are those physicians and other eligible professionals who first participated in the Medicaid portion of the EHR incentive payment program in 2013 and who were paid for adopting, implementing or updating to certified software that year, and who intend to use either 2011 Edition software or a hybrid of 2011 and 2014 editions to meet Stage 1 meaningful use this year, invoking the same hardship exemption.
Previously under a CMS rule in effect through last month, all providers in the program, including newcomers to meaningful use this year, were supposed to use 2014 Edition software.
But due to the inability of some software developers to prepare their systems in time for the 2014 Edition update and the subsequent difficulties for providers to buy, upgrade and install these systems in time to be used this year, the CMS permitted the extended use of 2011 Edition software for those hardship cases.
A final rule affecting these and other programmatic changes was released by the CMS in late August.
Provider hardship attestations are to be submitted to the CMS via a Web portal, but the underlying programming in the CMS eligibility system to accommodate these special cases won’t be upgraded until past the Oct. 1 attestation deadline for providers to avoid 1% deductions to their Medicare reimbursements in 2015, according to the CMS.
The CMS, meanwhile, is precluded from implementing a fix by its own rule. "We can't change the system until the rule is effective," said CMS spokeswoman Rachel Maisler in an e-mail. "The rule isn't effective until Oct. 1."
Those using 2014 Edition software this year will not be affected by the CMS system’s logic problem.
Also, the problem only puts those affected providers in jeopardy for Medicare reimbursement cuts. All enrolled physicians and other eligible professionals still have until Dec. 31 to complete their meaningful-use requirements, and up to the end of February 2015 to attest and qualify for incentive payments, according to the CMS.
Earlier this month, Ellmers and Matheson introduced the Flexibility in Health IT Reporting Act, or Flex-IT Act, legislation that would allow providers to use a 90-day reporting period in 2015 rather than an entire year.
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