By Joseph Conn – HIMSS
Providers, payers and claims clearinghouses can look for no relief from the looming, Oct. 1 compliance deadline for the nationwide conversion to the ICD-10 family of diagnostic and procedural codes, the head of the CMS said Thursday. But some case-by-case exemptions will be made for providers having a tough time meeting their Stage 2 meaningful-use targets, she said.
“There are no more delays and the system will go live on Oct. 1,” Marilyn Tavenner said during her keynote address at theHealthcare Information and Management Systems Society convention in Orlando, Fla., Thursday. “Let’s face it guys, we’ve delayed this several times and it’s time to move on.”
Similarly, there will be no rollback of compliance dates for Stage 2, Tavenner said, despite considerable pressure being applied to the agency to further delay compliance dates and add flexibility to its “all or nothing” requirements to meet meaningful-use measures.
For eligible hospitals, the starting date for Stage 2 was Oct. 1, 2013. Those hospitals have only two starting dates left in the program, which operates on a fiscal year, to commence 90 consecutive days of meeting the meaningful-use criteria: April 1 and July 1, 2014.
Physicians and other eligible professionals, whose EHR incentive programs operate on the calendar year, have a bit more time and three dates—the first days of April, July and October—to start their 90-day clocks.
Regarding Stage 2 of the electronic health-record incentive payment program, which requires providers to electronically exchange healthcare records with others, Tavenner explained that “interoperability is a key step to everything going forward,” particularly CMS’ value-based payment programs.
CMS has been sensitive to providers’ concerns, Tavenner said, pointing out that the Stage 2 and Stage 3 start dates each had previously been pushed back a year. “Now is the time for us to start moving forward,” she said.
But, she acknowledged that some providers and health IT vendors may have legitimate issues, such as the late delivery of tested and certified software, or EHR vendors going out of business, that might preclude them from achieving timely compliance with Stage 2.
In those instances, Tavenner said, the CMS is willing, on a case-by-case basis, to entertain applications for “hardship exemptions.” Even with the exemptions, she said, CMS expects all Stage 2 providers to fully meet all Stage 2 criteria by 2015 while still encouraging everyone else eligible to meet them this year.
Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn
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