A problem with the website for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) may lead to Medicare penalties for doctors. Doctors who are participating in the federal electronic health-record incentive payment program may get hit with Medicare penalties next year, because of the inability of the website to handle attestations from certain doctors claiming that they have complied with meaningful use requirements.
Doctor groups and organizations are asking the government to extend the deadline to accommodate the problem, arguing that it is unfair to punish practices that are simply unable to attest on the website. The deadline has not yet been extended.
Too little, too late?
CMS’s Web portal is supposed to be upgraded in mid-October, but under a CMS rule, mid-October will be too late for participants to avoid penalties. The deadline for filing is October 1, 2014.
If the portal is fixed, incentive payments won’t be affected. However, if the portal isn’t fixed, affected physicians are at risk of losing 1% of Medicare reimbursements in 2015.
Who is affected?
The two main groups of affected participants include:
- Participants who enrolled in the Medicare portion of the program this year, chose to use either the 2011 Edition software or a mix of 2011 and 2014 editions to achieve Stage 1 meaningful use, and who will be eligible for an expanded hardship exemption; and
- Participants who first enrolled in the Medicaid portion of the EHR incentive payment program last year, are using either 2011 software or a mix of 2011 and 2014 software, and who will also be eligible for an expanded hardship exemption.
The good news.
Doctors entering the Medicare incentive payment program for the first time this year are eligible to receive $12,000.00 next year, and those who entered the program last year will receive another $8,500.00 for their participation as meaningful users this year.
Also, participants still have the rest of the calendar year to meet meaningful-use targets, and until the end of February 2015 to attest that their targets have been met to receive their incentive payments.
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