The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has announced a new deadline for eligible professionals to attest to meaningful use for the Medicare Electronic Health Record Incentive Program 2014 reporting year.

According to CMS, it has extended the EHR attestation deadline and EPs now have until 11:59 pm ET on March 20 to comply. The previous deadline was Feb. 28.

In today’s announcement, CMS emphasized that the Medicare extension does not affect deadlines for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. In addition, the agency took the opportunity to report that the EHR reporting option for Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) has also been extended until March 20, 2015, and that a separate announcement with information regarding the PQRS program extension would be forthcoming.

“CMS extended the deadline to allow providers extra time to submit their meaningful use data,” states the announcement. “This extension also allows eligible professionals, who have not already used their one ‘switch’, to switch programs (from Medicare to Medicaid, or vice versa) for the 2014 payment year until 11:59 pm ET on March 20, 2015. After that time, eligible professionals will no longer be able to switch programs.”

Nonetheless, the agency continues to urge providers to begin attesting for 2014 as soon as possible. Medicare EPs are required to attest to MU annually to receive an incentive payment and avoid a Medicare payment adjustment. For those providers who do not successfully attest for the 2014 program year, a payment adjustment will be applied January 1, 2016.

CMS estimates that EPs will pay about $200 million this year in the form of Medicare payment reductions for their failure to become meaningful users of EHRs. Earlier this month at a joint meeting of the Health IT Policy and Standards Committees, the agency revealed that when it comes to 2014 attestations, 127,815 EPs have successfully attested through Feb. 1, 2015, of which 91,033 have attested to Stage 1 while 36,782 attested to Stage 2. In response, the American Medical Association said it was “alarmed” that more than three quarters of EPs have still been unable to attest to meaningful use.

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