GOP senators want specifics on hardship exemptions

Six Republican senators called on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide more details on its stated plans to grant certain healthcare providers exemptions from EHR regulations.

In a letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) wrote that the agency has refused their requests for additional time for providers to meet Meaningful Use Stage 2, yet failed to offer details on its recent announcement on hardship exemptions.

“Despite the overwhelming outpouring of concern about the Stage 2 regulations, you announced in a speech last week that the timing of Stage 2 will not change. Instead, you said that hardship exceptions will be available,” the senators stated. “We were disappointed to hear this announcement, even more so because of the lack of clarity about how the exceptions will be administered.”

The senators went on to ask for more details on the hardship exemptions, asking the agency to elaborate on the “certain narrow circumstances” that render providers eligible for leniency. They asked: “How will these categories be expanded?  Will the applications be due April 1?  What documentation or standard of proof must be met to obtain an exception? What is the timing for review, and will there be an appeals process?”

The letter requested a response to this matter “as soon as possible.”