Today, March 13, is the deadline for hospitals to submit electronic clinical quality measures (eCQM) covering the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting and Electronic Health Record Meaningful Use Programs.

However, the American Hospital Association is formally requesting an extension from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, saying neither hospitals nor CMS are ready for the task.

AHA's Chantal Worzala

Failure to submit the measures will adversely affect providers’ reimbursement rates. While AHA seeks more time, it’s also asking CMS to consider an alternative and forgive payment penalties on hospitals that are unable to submit data.

Hospitals and health systems have reported several issues with the program’s data submission system and with vendors’ certified technology, putting at risk their successful completion of their quality reporting and meaningful use attestation.

While quality reporting has been part of the eCQM and meaningful use programs for years, the reporting for both programs is being done differently this year, and the inpatient eCQM data reporting is required of hospitals of all sizes, says Chantal Worzala, vice president of policy.

Hospitals submit both programs to the same reporting infrastructure, called Quality Net, she explains. But hospitals submitting meaningful use data are finding that Quality Net isn’t adequately interacting with the meaningful use attestation system.

Further, data files sent to Quality Net are very large and can take more than 10 hours to be fully submitted, adds Diane Jones, senior associate director of policy.

Also in the past week, CMS turned off a program that handles submission status and performance feedback reports, according to Jones. Hospital can request confirmation that reports were successfully submitted, but this can take up to 14 hours. Also, hospitals may not know until mid-March or early April if meaningful use attestation was successful and what the payment will be. That means even if meaningful use attestation is submitted on time, providers won’t know if attestation is good until CMS tells them otherwise.

Also See: CMS issues rules for hospitals to get eCQM hardship exemptions

Earlier this year, CMS already had extended reporting deadlines, but AHA says more time still is needed for hospitals to meet electronic clinical quality measure data submission requirements and for CMS to properly handle the influx of eCQM data files.

Further, CMS in December announced that hospitals could request hardship exemptions, but facilities needed compelling reasons and documentation to support their requests. For instance, the agency at that time said it would consider infrastructure challenges, such as hospitals that operate in areas with insufficient Internet connectivity, or a vendor’s product losing certification. In general, CMS noted it would primarily consider requests in situations in which circumstances were beyond a hospital’s control.

Failure to submit data measures to both programs would significantly reduce provider reimbursement in coming years, the hospital association warned.

CMS did not respond to a request for comment.

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