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News & Press: Government Affairs News

CMS to Provide Hardship Exemption to Practices in Hurricane Areas

Thursday, December 7, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Bradley Coffey, MA, AAOE Government Affairs
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Baltimore, MD - In the Quality Payment Program (QPP) final rule, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an interim-final rule with comment period to adopt a policy to account for natural disasters in 2017. Providers participating in the QPP in regions impacted by a natural disaster are not required to submit 2017 MIPS data and will automatically avoid the 2019 penalty.

Providers in disaster areas electing to submit data may do so and will receive a MIPS score and a MIPS payment adjustment similar to other providers.

To qualify for the "Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstance Policy" for the 2017 transition period, the eligible clinician must be reporting as an individual and not within a group. The automatic exception for 2017 does not apply to groups although CMS indicates it may address its application in future rulemaking.

CMS indicates that the trigger for each automatic exception would be an event designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a major disaster or a public health emergency as declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). As of now, the automatic exception applies only to those in areas affected by the hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Should additional disasters occur (such as the California wildfires) CMS will announce the application of this exception through normal communications methods.

The affected areas eligible for the automatic exception are:

  • All 67 counties in Florida
  • All 159 counties in Georgia
  • Louisiana Parishes: Acadia, Allen, Assumption, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, De Soto, Iberia, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Lafourche, Natchitoches, Plaquemines, Rapides, Red River, Sabine, St. Charles, St. Mary, Vermilion, and Vernon.
  • All 78 municipios in Puerto Rico
  • South Carolina Counties: Allendale, Anderson, Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Edgefield, Georgetown, Hampton, Jasper, McCormick, Oconee, and Pickens.
  • Texas Counties: Aransas, Austin, Bastrop, Bee, Bexar, Brazoria, Buleson, Caldwell, Calhoun, Chambers, Colorado, Comal, Dallas, Dewitt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Gonzales, Grimes, Guadalupe, Hardin, Harris, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Jim Wells, Karnes, Kleberg, Lavaca, Lee, Liberty, Madison, Matagorda, Milam, Montgomery, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Polk, Refugio, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Tarrant, Travis, Tyler, Victoria, Walker, Waller, Washington, and Wharton.
  • All of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This list may continue to be updated and can be found here.

AAOE will continue to update members on changes to CMS' Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstance Policy.

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