On October 7, 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced plans to reopen and extend the deadline for eligible professionals and eligible hospitals to submit a hardship exception application for not demonstrating “Meaningful Use” of Certified Electronic Health Record Technology (CEHRT).

Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act), eligible hospitals, critical access hospitals, and eligible professionals had to demonstrate “meaningful use” of a CEHRT, or face reductions in their Medicare payment. Under certain circumstances, the Secretary of Health and Human Services has discretion to consider hardship exceptions on a case-by-case basis to avoid payment penalties, including issues related to difficulties with vendors obtaining certification.

Because industry aspirations exceeded actual implementation capabilities, the original hardship exception application deadlines of April 1, 2014 (for eligible hospitals) and July 1, 2014 (for eligible professionals) were extended to November 1, 2014.

According to CMS, the reopened hardship exception application submission period applies to eligible professionals and eligible hospitals that:

  • Have been unable to fully implement 2014 Edition CEHRT due to delays in 2014 Edition CEHRT availability; AND
  • Eligible professionals who were unable to attest by October 1, 2014, and eligible hospitals that were unable to attest by July 1, 2014, using the flexibility options provided in the CMS 2014 CEHRT Flexibility Rule.

The CMS hardship application can be found here.