The CMS, in another show of flexibility on the meaningful-use program, extended the attestation deadline until March 20. That gives eligible providers more time to demonstrate that they have fulfilled the requirements set forth by the electronic health-record incentive program and so avoid payment penalties.
The previous deadline for attestation was Feb. 28. The extension is “not necessarily a surprise,” said Jeff Smith, vice president of public policy at the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives. That's because of the flexibility CMS already has given to attesting providers and hospitals. “Most anticipated that this announcement could be coming,” Smith said.
The main question Smith has now is how many eligible providers will take advantage of the temporary reprieve. The extension for hospitals was relatively successful, he said, with a “few hundred” taking advantage. But Smith points out that relatively fewer eligible providers participate than eligible hospitals, meaning that the effect could be blunted.
The agency has shown a recent willingness to tinker with the meaningful-use program. Besides the extensions, the agency also has allowed providers and hospitals to attest to meaningful use with earlier versions of EHR technology than originally anticipated, to cite one example.
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