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CMS Clarifies Meaningful Use Broadband Hardship Exceptions

Providers in counties with less than 4Mbps of broadband service can attest to meaningful use hardship exceptions.

By Sara Heath

- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released clarifying information regarding hardship exceptions for meaningful use participants with limited broadband in their regions.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services CMS Logo

In October 2015, CMS released a rule stating that those with less than 4 Mbps of broadband service may file for a meaningful use hardship exception in attesting to patient electronic access and secure messaging measures.

Specifically, eligible hospitals, critical access hospitals, and eligible providers may attest a meaningful use hardship exception for patient electronic access measures if the county in which they provide has 50 percent or more of housing units with less than 4 Mbps of broadband service. Likewise goes to eligible providers with regard to secure messaging measures.

All of these measures for broadband service are according to what has most recently been reported to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

CMS also provided a list of the specific counties that reportedly has less than 4Mbps of broadband service as of December 31, 2014. Those counties include:

  • Aleutians East Borough, Alaska
  • Aleutians West Census Area, Alaska
  • Yakutat City and Borough, Alaska
  • Camas County, Idaho
  • Loving County, Texas
  • Daggett County, Utah

These meaningful use hardship exceptions apply to the most recent final rule for the meaningful use programs, published in October 2015, with provisions taking effect between 2015 and 2017, as well as in Stage 3 meaningful use in 2018 and going forward.

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