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News: Legislative Updates

Physicians Must Apply for EHR Hardship Exception by Wednesday, July 1

Thursday, June 25, 2015  
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June 18, ASCA Government Affairs


CMS is currently accepting the Eligible Professional 2016 Hardship Exception Application for eligible providers who are seeking a hardship exception to the electronic health records (EHR) meaningful use requirements for the 2014 reporting year. Applications must be submitted by Wednesday, July 1. CMS will review applications to determine whether or not you are granted a hardship exception. If approved, the exception is valid for one year.


To be a "meaningful user" of EHRs and eligible to receive incentive payments and avoid penalties, physicians must use "certified" EHRs that meet standards established by CMS in at least 50 percent of their patient encounters. This is problematic for physicians who operate primarily or solely in the ASC setting since there is currently no certification for products specifically designed for the ASC setting.


Eligible providers may try to avoid the adjustment by completing a hardship exception application and providing supporting documentation that proves that meeting the meaningful use requirements would be a significant hardship. While ASCA did not hear from any physicians who applied for the exemption last year and were successful, the one exemption that may apply to ASC physicians who are in danger of not meeting the 50 percent threshold is the exception titled "Lack of control over the availability of certified electronic health record technology." This exception should protect physicians who frequently practice at an ASC; however, the protection afforded to ASC owners is less certain because it is unclear whether CMS will view them as truly lacking control.


Physicians do not need to submit a hardship application if they are newly-practicing eligible professional or have certain PECOS specialties (05-Anesthesiology, 22-Pathology, 30-Diagnostic Radiology, 36-Nuclear Medicine, 94-Interventional Radiology). CMS will use Medicare data to determine your eligibility to be automatically granted a hardship exception.


If you have any questions, please contact Kara Newbury at


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