EHR Incentive Payment Programs

March 28, 2011, 02:10 PM

As mentioned in our previous post, this post will address the incentive payment programs for the implementation and meaningful use of Electronic Health Records (EHRs). The Health Information Technology Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (HITECH) authorized incentive payments for the adoption and meaningful use of certified EHR technology. Medicare and states Medicaid programs will provide incentive payments to eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) that demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology. Non-hospital based physicians and other eligible professionals can receive up to $44,000 over five years under Medicare or up to $63,750 over six years under Medicaid. Incentive payments for eligible hospitals and CAHs will begin with a $2 million base payment under both Medicare and Medicaid but will depend on a number of factors. Provider registration for participation in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program and some Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs opened January 3, 2011. Most states will begin registration for their Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs during the spring and summer of 2011. To maximize incentive payments, Medicare eligible professionals must begin participation by 2012. However, and of utmost importance, Medicare eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and CAHs that do not successfully demonstrate meaningful use by 2015 will have a negative payment adjustment in Medicare reimbursement. There will be no payment adjustment under the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. Medicare and Medicaid are providing incentive payments to physicians that implement and meaningfully use EHRs that will help defray the costs of implementing EHR technology. As you will see in our discussion of EHRs importance to ACOs in our next post, eligible professionals should seriously consider participating in the incentive program. —Christopher L. McLean