American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

Consider Applying for an EHR Meaningful Use Hardship Exception

Updated Feb. 19, 2016, to reflect new guidance from CMS:

All DOs who participate in Medicare should consider applying for an EHR Meaningful Use hardship exception, even if they are certain they can successfully attest to Meaningful Use Stage 1 or Stage 2 for the 2015 performance year.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) did not publish the Stage 2 requirements for EHR Meaningful Use until Oct. 16, 2015. This late publication date made it nearly impossible for physicians to attest to 90 consecutive days, as required. 

Due to significant advocacy efforts on this issue by the AOA over the past year, Congress passed legislation in late 2015 that makes it easier for physicians to obtain an exception. This “blanket” policy means that CMS must only verify that an application is complete in order to grant an exception.

Applying for a hardship exception does not preclude successfully attesting the Meaningful Use. You may submit your attestation information (due March 11, 2016) to CMS, and then follow that with a hardship application (due July 1, 2016). The hardship application will serve as a backstop to your attestation, and would only come under consideration should your attestation fail.

In addition, the application has been streamlined to make applying easier, with virtually no paperwork. It simply requires providing the physician’s NPI, name, a point of contact, and checking off a hardship category.

  • No documentation to support a physician’s hardship claim is required.

  • Physicians will not be audited to verify the application’s authenticity.

  • This application will only affect penalties in the 2017 payment year and 2016 penalties will not be impacted.

  • A single point of contact can submit an application on behalf of a large group of physicians under the same category, further reducing paperwork.

The deadline to apply for a hardship exception is March 15, 2016.

See step-by-step instructions for completing the application. If you have additional questions, please contact


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