• MIPS 2020—PI: Some Clinicians May Be Excused From Promoting Interoperability

    This content is excerpted from EyeNet’s MIPS 2020; also see the Academy’s MIPS hub page.


    In limited circumstances, you may be excused from PI reporting. Typically, if you don’t report PI measures, your PI score will be 0% and your maximum MIPS final score would be 75 points. However, there are some exceptions (see below). If you qualify for an exception, you would be excused from reporting PI measures. Some PI exceptions must be applied for, while others are automatic.

    What happens if you are excused from PI? If CMS excuses you from reporting PI, the performance category’s weight within your MIPS final score could be reduced to 0%. If PI is the only performance category that is being reweighted to 0%, its weight is transferred to the quality performance category, which would now be weighted at 70%, meaning that it would contribute up to 70 points toward your MIPS final score. If more than one performance category is being reweighted to 0%, see “Table: Performance Category Weights”.

    Warning: If you do any PI reporting for the 2020 performance year, you will have waived your right to any exception from PI. Suppose you qualify for a PI exception, but you report PI measures anyway. CMS will assume that you decided to participate in PI, will assign you a PI score, and will give PI a weight of 25% when calculating your MIPS final score.

    Caveat for group-level reporting. If you are participating in MIPS as part of a group, you won’t be excused from PI unless all MIPS eligible clinicians in the group are excused.

    Some PI Exceptions Must Be Applied For

    You may apply for a significant hardship exception. CMS has described several circumstances that might qualify for the significant hardship exception:

    • insufficient internet connectivity and insurmountable barriers prevented you from obtaining sufficient access;
    • extreme and uncontrollable circumstances that caused your CEHRT to become unavailable, including disaster, practice closure, severe financial distress (e.g., bankruptcy or debt restructuring), and vendor issues;
    • you have no control over whether CEHRT is available (you must be able to show that more than 50% of your patient encounters occurred in locations where you had no control over the availability of CEHRT);
    • you’re using a decertified EHR system that lost its certification in 2019 and 2020 (though you must be able to show a good faith effort to replace it with a CEHRT, and if you have qualified for this exception for multiple years you should check whether you have maxed out); and
    • you’re in a small practice and you can demonstrate that there are “overwhelming barriers” that prevent you from complying with the PI requirements.

    Note: If your practice lacks an EHR system, that is not enough, in and of itself, to excuse you from being scored on the PI performance category.

    Submit your application by Dec. 31, 2020. When can you start submitting applications for the PI hardship exception? In past years, CMS opened the application process in August. The submission link is usually posted at https://qpp.cms.gov/mips/exception-applications.

    Want tips on submitting this application? See the Academy’s guidance.

    The exception is only good for one year at a time. If you applied for this exception in 2019 and it was approved, the approval doesn’t roll over to 2020—you need to reapply. 

    Some PI Exceptions Are Automatic

    You’re in a disaster zone. If your practice is in an area that CMS has identified as being affected by extreme and uncontrollable circumstances, such as a natural disaster, CMS may excuse you from MIPS provided you don't report any MIPS data.

    Certain types of MIPS eligible clinicians qualify for automatic reweighting. These include the following clinician types:

    • hospital-based clinicians,
    • ambulatory surgical center (ASC)–based clinicians,
    • non–patient-facing clinicians,
    • physician assistants,
    • nurse practitioners,
    • clinical nurse specialists,
    • certified registered nurse anesthetists,
    • physical therapists,
    • occupational therapists,
    • qualified speech-language pathologists, or
    • registered dietitians or nutrition professionals.

    Previous: PI: How You’ll Be Scored

    Next: Table: Promoting Interoperability at a Glance

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