Relief for 2015 Meaningful Use Reporting but Stage 3 Final Rule Future is Uncertain

Relief for 2015 Meaningful Use Reporting but Stage 3 Final Rule Future is Uncertain


Earlier this week, after considering more than 2,500 comments, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the much anticipated Final Rule for Electronic Health Record Incentive Program - Stage 3 and Modifications to Meaningful Use in 2015 and 2017. Uncharacteristically, CMS is permitting additional comments for an additional 60 days on Stage 3 measures, objectives and reporting periods. In a CMS call, the agency noted that the comments may be rolled into future rule-making for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).  

The Modifications bring some relief. For 2015 only, the final rule permits providers to demonstrate meaningful use through any continuous 90-day period during the calendar year. Hospitals are permitted a 15-month period (Oct. 1, 2014 to Dec. 31, 2015).  Going forward, except for first-time demonstrators, a full calendar year will be required. In its call, CMS stressed that a 2014 certified product must be used in 2015. For 2015-2017, the final rule reduces the number of objectives which must be met to 10 for providers and 9 for hospitals. 

The most dramatic change from the proposed rule is that CMS has agreed to consider hardship exception applications under the extreme and uncontrollable circumstances category for those providers and hospitals who fail to meet meaningful use for 2015 based on the uncertainty in the rule finalization.

For 2016 and 2017, eligible professionals (EPs) and eligible hospitals (EHs), except for those that are demonstrating meaningful use for the first time, must show meaningful use of the CEHRT over the calendar year periods for 2016 and 2017.  

The Final Rule for Stage 3:

Industry stakeholders and Congress had mixed responses to the release of the Final Rule and Modifications, including:

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