News From the End-of-Life: Electronic filing proposed for CMS cost reports

Delay or waiver may be possible

Hospices that file their next cost report on or after Dec. 31 will have to do so through electronic submission using a standardized electronic format, according to a recent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposal. The proposed rule would amend current cost report requirements for all hospices, organ procurement organizations, rural health clinics, federally qualified health centers, community mental health centers, and end-stage renal disease facilities.

Hospices that can prove a financial hardship due to the proposed rule would be allowed to delay implementation or could be granted a waiver. Despite the hardship, Medicare officials contend the new rule would allow for more accurate preparation and more efficient processing of cost reports.

In the July 26 issue of the Federal Register, CMS stated that for the first two years of the rule, a hard copy of the cost report would be submitted with the electronic version. The agency said that the electronic cost reports "will virtually eliminate computational errors and substantially reduce preparation time. Moreover, the use of cost reporting software will save time whenever the provider needs to change individual entries in a cost report."

Hospices and other groups affected by the change may submit a written request for a waiver or a delay of these requirements based on financial hardship. CMS also will allow providers with low or no Medicare utilization to request a waiver of electronic cost reporting.