Following last week’s announcement that providers of all sorts would have an additional month to attest to meaningful use for the 2013 Medicare EHR Incentive Program, physician practices have been abuzz with one question in particular: What does this mean for us?
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which administers the incentive program, the decision to move the attestation date from Feb. 28 to March 31 responded to providers' “extraordinary interest” in EHRs and the incentives that are due to them.
"This extension will allow more time for providers to submit their meaningful use data and receive an incentive payment for the 2013 program year, as well as avoid the 2015 payment adjustment," CMS officials remarked in a news release.
Robert Wah, MD (pictured), chief medical officer for CSC and president-elect of the American Medical Association, confirmed that the current extension is not meant for providers to play “catch-up” or consider qualifying for meaningful use incentives; the time for that would have been before Dec. 31, 2013.
Rather, “this extension will be for those who need more time to report [or attest] to CMS,” Wah told Medical Practice Insider.
And while there’s something to be gained in having a little extra time, Wah noted that the most interesting aspect to the extension was not additional attestation leeway, but what the announcement could imply about future MU decisions.
“Beyond the extension itself, perhaps we can be optimistic that CMS may see the benefit of being more flexible on aspects of the meaningful use program that many doctors and organizations are working hard to participate in,” Wah said.
“Let's keep in mind the overall goals and benefits for the health system and not get unduly focused on just checking off boxes and specific deadlines,” he concluded.
Access CMS' registration and attestation system here.
For registration and attestation system inquiries, call the EHR Information Center at 1-888-734-6433. The center is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. CT, except federal holidays.