Planning for Meaningful Use Penalties in 2015
After years of talking about Meaningful Use and the government’s “incentive” program, the
penalty phase, in the form of lowered Medicare reimbursements, begins in 2015 for eligible providers wo have not yet attested. In 2015, providers who did not sign up by the end of December 2014, will be subject to a 1% reduction in their Medicare reimbursements. Those who continue to opt out of the meaningful use program, will see an additional 1% reduction in 2016 and 2017.
While it is too late to claim the incentives and to avoid penalties in 2015, if you are a provider who has yet to attest, there may still be a way to avoid penalties next year. The program allows for a “hardship waiver” on 2016 penalties for providers who file an exemption by July 2015.
Although these are the official rules, the AMA and other organizations are continuing to pressure the government to relax them and give physicians more time to comply – especially with the Stage II requirements (where patient “engagement” must be demonstrated) which are even more challenging for many than Stage I.
If you are a provider who is not yet up to date with Meaningful Use, help is available through state coops like HealthPOINT in South Dakota. Otherwise, work the penalties into your 2015 budget and, if they are delayed, you can consider it a bonus.