The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced a new, streamlined hardship application process for physicians looking to avoid Meaningful Use penalties. In its announcement, CMS states that the new process will reduce the amount of information physicians will need to provide to apply for a hardship exception. These changes are being implemented as a result of the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act (PAMA), which allows CMS to consider hardship exceptions for “categories” of providers identified by CMS rather than reviewing all individual applications on a case-by-case basis. To use the new, streamlined process providers must apply for a hardship exception no later than March 15, 2016 to avoid the 2017 Meaningful Use penalty. The new applications and instructions are available on the CMS website.
PAMA also allows CMS to consider groups of providers, who may now apply for a hardship exception on a single application. According to CMS, providers will have the option to submit an electronic file (in excel or csv formats) with all National Provider Identifiers (NPIs) for the providers within the group or use a multiple NPI form to submit their application. Instructions on filling out the application form are available here.