How to Avoid Meaningful Use Penalties – Meaningful Use Monday

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money. Check out Lynn’s previous Meaningful Use Monday posts.

When the EHR Incentive Program was first announced, many providers told me that while they might be willing to forego the potential incentive payments for meaningful use, they could never accept the 2015 penalties (AKA “adjustments”) for non-compliance. Back in 2009, 2015 seemed far in the future—but for those motivated by penalty avoidance, it’s time to make sure that meaningful use is within your grasp. 

The Proposed Rule for Meaningful Use Stage 2, (page 13771), defines the timeline for the assessment of penalties. The safest way to avoid the 2015 penalty is to successfully demonstrate meaningful use in 2013. (Yes, 2013—this is not a typo!) Failing that, a provider whose first year of participation is 2014 has until October 1, 2014 to successfully attest, which means that he/she must begin the 90-day reporting period no later than July 3 of that year. For future year penalties—that increase by 1% annually—the pattern would be the same: full calendar year reporting two years prior or 90-day reporting in the year prior to the penalty assessment.

Bottom line: You cannot wait until 2015 to be a meaningful user if you are concerned about the penalties. And if you haven’t embarked on the EHR adoption process yet, 2013 will sneak up on you very quickly!