The Golden Parachute: Hospitals and Retroactive Meaningful Use Attestation
My grandfather, raised in the red hills of North Georgia, used to call it “getting caught with your pants up”. I saw the same thing in the first Hunger Games movie when those little surprise parachutes would float down with food and medicine. I like those little parachutes, we need more of them. Sometimes just when you need something, it falls out of the sky. So what does this have to do with the CMS EHR Incentive Programs and meaningful use (MU)? I’ll tell you, plenty.
Last week CMS in an unexpected stroke of largesse extended the deadline for 2013 Medicare attestations. The reason given for this action touched on performance issues of the CMS attestation website. Who knows all the reasons? Perhaps it is best not to look a gift horse in the mouth. Here is a portion of the CMS announcement:
“CMS is extending the deadline for eligible professionals to attest to meaningful use for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program 2013 reporting year from 11:59 pm ET on February 28, 2014 to 11:59 pm ET March 31, 2014. In addition, CMS is offering assistance to eligible hospitals who may have experienced difficulty attesting to submit their attestation retroactively and avoid the 2015 payment adjustment…. This extension does not impact the deadlines for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program or any other CMS program, including the electronic submission for the Physician Quality Reporting System EHR Incentive Program Pilot.”
So, what does it mean? Medicare Eligible Professionals (EPs) are given an extra month to attest for 2013 incentives and the extension will not apply to the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program (or any other CMS program). To me the giant take away involves Eligible Hospitals (EHs). Until last week November 30th, 2013 was the last day for EHs to have attested to receive an incentive payment for FY 2013. Suddenly, the deadline was erased and new hope was breathed into attestation efforts that had not been completed by the deadline.
I was contacted this week by a hospital that had met Stage 1 MU for 90 days in 2012 and a second full year of Stage 1MU in 2013. However, due to delays in being able to generate the necessary MU reports out of their EHR, they missed the 11/30/2013 attestation deadline. They were out of luck, until one of those little parachutes fell from the sky in terms of the extension of the deadline and what is being called a “retroactive attestation”. Here is how CMS outlines the opportunity:
“For Eligible Hospitals that have experienced attestation challenges, CMS offered assistance by providing a means for hospitals to contact CMS so they can submit their attestation retroactively. Hospitals must contact CMS by March 15, 2014, to discuss their retroactive submission and to participate for the 2013 program year. Eligible hospitals must contact CMS at EH2013Extension@Provider-Resources.com by 11:59 pm ET on March 15, 2014, in order to participate for the 2013 program year. CMS is planning to reach out to the point person that each hospital designates to provide them additional instructions regarding their eligible hospital 2013 attestation submission.”
Now that is what I call a golden parachute. It is still too early to tell what it takes to meet the eligibility requirements for retroactive attestation, but you can bet your bottom dollar if I were a hospital that had missed the 2013 attestation deadline I would be finding out.
Jim Tate is known as the most experienced authority on the CMS Meaningful Use (MU) audit and appeal process. His unique combination of skills has brought successful outcomes to hospitals at risk of having their CMS EHR incentives recouped. He led the first appeal challenge in the nation for a client hospital that had received a negative audit determination. That appeal was decided in favor of the hospital. He has also been successful in leading the effort to reverse a failed appeal, even after the hospital had received notification of the failure with the statement, “This decision is final and not subject to further appeal”. That “final” decision was reversed in less than a week. If you are a hospital with questions or concerns about the meaningful use audit process, contact him at: email@example.com. This post was originally published in MeaningfulUseAudits.com.