Starting January 5th, 2015 about 257,000 Medicare eligible professionals (EPs) will face meaningful use penalties, according to CMS officials. EPs must successfully attest for Meaningful Use on or before Oct. 1, 2014 in order to avoid a penalty.
The announcement also revealed during a press call on Wednesday afternoon revealed of those 257,000 EPs identified, 28,000 will face a 2 percent penalty for failing to meet the e-prescribing requirement. Additionally, more than 200 eligible hospitals (EHs) are expected to receive penalties for failing to meet MU.
CMS officials will be mailing letters out to those EPs affected by the penalty containing instructions for the EPs to apply for possible considerations. EPs must send their response back to CMS through the end of February.
EPs needed to demonstrate Meaningful Use on or before Oct. 1, 2014, to avoid the penalty. CMS officials stated certain EPs failed to meet MU on purpose and would rather stay on paper records.
AMA President Elect, Steven J. Stack, MD released the following statement upon CMS’s recent announcement:
“The Meaningful Use program was intended to increase physician use of technology to help improve care and efficiency. Unfortunately, the strict set of one-size-fits-all requirements is failing physicians and their patients. They are hindering participation in the program, forcing physicians to purchase expensive electronic health records with poor usability that disrupts workflow, creates significant frustrations and interferes with patient care, and imposes an administrative burden.
The AMA supported the original HITECH legislation and we have provided extensive and constructive feedback to the Administration to help fix the Meaningful Use program, but few changes have been made. In light of the dismal number of eligible professionals meeting Meaningful Use, we hope that the Administration will now move forward with the solutions we put forth in our Blueprint to make the program more successful and better enable physicians to provide quality care for their patients.”
The penalties physicians are facing under the Meaningful Use program are part of a regulatory tsunami facing physicians, apart from the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate formula, that could include cuts from the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), the Value-based Modifier Program (VBM) and the sequester, further destabilizing physician practices and creating a disincentive to see Medicare patients. According to the Administration, only half of eligible physicians participated in PQRS in 2013, meaning many will incur penalties from both the Meaningful Use and PQRS programs.
The overlapping and often conflicting patchwork of laws and regulations must be fixed and aligned to ensure physicians are able to move to innovative payment and delivery models that could improve the quality of care.”