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Meaningful Use Hardship Exemption

Feb 19, 2016

Prior to adjourning for the holidays, Congress passed the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act (PAMPA), which directed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to make AMA-supported changes to the Medicare EHR Incentive Program hardship exception process that allows physicians to avoid a Meaningful Use (MU) penalty in 2017.

The AMA is encouraging ALL physicians subject to the 2015 Medicare MU program to apply for the hardship. CMS has stated that it will broadly accept hardship exemptions because of the delayed publication of the program regulations. Applying for the hardship will not prevent a physician from earning an incentive. It simply protects a physician from receiving an MU penalty. Therefore, physicians who believe that they met the MU requirements for the 2015 reporting period should still apply for the hardship protection. Note that the program operates on a 2-year look-back period, meaning that physicians who are granted an exception for the 2015 program will avoid a financial penalty for 2017.

The deadline to submit an application for Eligible Professionals is March 15, 2016.

Applying for a hardship exemption from the 2017 meaningful use payment penalty will not preclude physicians from receiving the incentive if they successfully attest to meaningful use in 2015.  In essence, the hardship exemption will act as a safety net. Learn more.

Download step-by-step instructions for completing the hardship exception application.