A CMS announcement last week that many doctors and hospitals will see their 2015 Medicare payments cut by 1% for failing to meet federal electronic health-record incentive-payment program standards has provoked strong reactions from physician and hospital groups.
“The American Medical Association is appalled by the news,” said AMA President-elect Dr. Steven Stack, who noted that “more than 50% of eligible professionals will face penalties … a number that is even worse than we anticipated.”
The cuts will target more than a quarter-million physicians and other eligible professionals and about 200 hospitals. The penalties will apply next year to providers who failed to meet the program's Stage 1 meaningful-use criteria in 2013.
Letters informing affected providers and hospitals will be mailed in the coming weeks, a CMS official said. Instructions on how to appeal the CMS' penalty decision is available on the CMS website. Appeals must be filed by Feb. 28.
“This is a clear message to the administration that they've got to make significant changes to the program,” said Robert Tennant, senior policy adviser to the Medical Group Management Association, which has lobbied for several years to have the penalties applied to reimbursements at the end of the year in which the provider fails to make meaningful use, rather than two years later, as the program does now.
“It's only fair,” Tennant said. “Someone who struggled to meet meaningful use and did in 2014, why should they get a penalty in 2015?”
The penalties start at 1% of Medicare reimbursements beginning in 2015 for noncompliance in fiscal 2013 for hospitals, and calendar year 2013 for physicians, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors.