Eligible professionals within the Medicare EHR Incentive Program who did not successfully meet meaningful use in 2013 still have time to submit a hardship exception application for payment year 2015, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The CMS deadline for eligible professionals to apply for 2013 reporting year–2015 payment adjustment year hardship exceptions is July 1. To date, 600 eligible professionals have applied for hardship exceptions, according to a CMS official who made a presentation during the Health IT Policy Committee's May 6 meeting. 

"We have received a number of hardship exemption applications. I know that that's been a big question of how those are going," Elisabeth Myers, policy and outreach lead for the CMS Office of E-Health Standards and Services, told the committee.

In addition to EHR vendor issues, lack of infrastructure and unforeseen/uncontrollable circumstances, eligible professionals can also use "lack of control over the availability of Certified EHR Technology" and "lack of Face-to-Face Interaction" as reasons for applying for hardship exemptions. Hardship exceptions are valid for one payment year only. If an eligible professional claims a hardship exception for the following payment year, a new application must be submitted.

While the application deadline for eligible professionals is less than two months away, the deadline for eligible hospitals has already past. Myers said that 72 eligible hospitals applied for hardship exceptions by the April 1 deadline and CMS granted 66 exceptions and dismissed 6 applications based on the documentation that was provided. 

"I want to make it clear that they were not denied. They were dismissed. Those six hospitals applied for this year when they didn't need to," she said.

Determinations made by CMS regarding hardship exceptions are final and cannot be appealed. 

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