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Meaningful Use Penalties Will Hit 250,000+ Physicians in 2015

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Dec. 17 that approximately 257,000 Medicare eligible professionals (EPs) will suffer a 1 percent penalty to their 2015 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule payments for failing to demonstrate Meaningful Use by Oct. 1, 2014. Over 10 percent of those EPs affected will also get hit with an additional payment penalty for failing to meet e-prescribing requirements. CMS will begin mailing letters to affected EPs in the next few weeks.
In a public statement, the AMA said it was “appalled by news from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) today that more than 50 percent of eligible professionals will face penalties under the Meaningful Use program in 2015, a number that is even worse than we anticipated.” The AMA blasts the meaningful use program as counterproductive to the goals of improved care and efficiency, arguing, “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.”
CMS does allow for hardship exemptions from the meaningful use rules, but only an annual, case-by-case basis. EPs who received hardship exemptions for 2015 must reapply if they expect they will be unable meet the threshold, again, in 2016.

John Verhovshek
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John Verhovshek, MA, CPC, is a contributing editor at AAPC. He has been covering medical coding and billing, healthcare policy, and the business of medicine since 1999. He is an alumnus of York College of Pennsylvania and Clemson University.

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