Your time to submit your Meaningful Use hardship exemption application is quickly coming to an end! November 30, 2014 is the deadline, so if you're still planning to apply for the exemption you better get to it. If you're not already participating in Meaningful Use, you're going to be penalized next year, unless you qualify and submit your exemption application by the 30th.
Penalties on your Medicare reimbursements will start at 1% in 2015, and increase each year to a maximum of 5%. In order to qualify for the hardship exemption you need to meet one of the four valid reasons for not being able to meet Meaningful Use criteria this year. The CMS has come up with 4 situations that explain why your practice might not have been able to implement an EHR and attest to Meaningful Use this year.
Why Your Practice Might Qualify for the Meaningful Use Hardship ExemptionUncontrollable Circumstances
Some Meaningful Use and EHR situations are out of your control. Things like natural disasters, practice closures, bankruptcy, or debt-restructing are all things that might qualify you for the exemption. On top of that, EHR vendors might have run into issues such as loss of certification, closure, or 2014 certification issues and delays. These would also qualify you for the hardship exemption.Shortage of Infrastructure
In this case, infrastructure mostly refers to reliable Internet connectivity. If your practice is in an area with insufficient Internet access you won't be able to comply with certain Meaningful Use objectives that require Internet connectivity. Running into this problem qualifies you for the exemption.Availability of Certified EHR Technology
At the start of 2014, all EHR vendors were required to certify their system to meet Stage 2 objectives and measures, even if the system had previously been certified for Stage 1. Gaining this certification is not a quick and easy process for vendors, so if your vendor was unable to provide you with a 2014 certified system, you would qualify for the exemption.Limited Face-to-Face Interaction
This is one that might not be relevant for many ODs. Doctors must demonstrate a complete lack of face-to-face interactions and follow-ups, or show that these cases are very rare and not part of the eligible professional's normal scope of practice in order to qualify for this exemption criteria.
If your practice qualifies for one of these exemptions, your frist step is to complete an application before November 30! Next, take a look at this chart to help you determine your next steps. And, for even more details on using the flexibility options, check out our latest eBook!
For more information regarding the exemption deadline and Meaningful Use in 2015, download our eBook!