The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included a provision to provide grants to medical practices to convert to electronic health records (EHR). The money is part of a program called the EHR Incentive Program. It is the carrot of the plan to move more practices to EHRs. The stick part is reduced payments for Medicare and Medicaid to practices that are still using paper medical records. It is believed that by using EHRs that the overhead needed to manage Medicare and Medicaid can be reduced.
EHR Implementation Incentive Programs
There are two different incentive programs that practices can apply to. The Medicare EHR incentive program pays $44,000 to eligible professionals over five years. To qualify you must demonstrate meaningful use of EHRs. To get the maximum payment requires that the professional began the program in 2012. There are additional payments for professionals in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HSPA).
The second program is the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. This program includes payments up to $63,750 over a six year period. To get the maximum amount requires participation starting in 2012. You must demonstrate meaningful use of EHRs in the first year of participation and continue to do so for up to five years. The funds are available in 43 states through your State Medicaid Agency.
While many hospitals will be able to apply to both programs, most health professionals will need to choose one program to participate in. I there are multiple professionals in a practice they may each be eligible to apply to an incentive program. However, each professional may only apply to one of the programs. Professionals based in a hospital are not eligible for either program.
If you plan to participate in the EHR Incentive Program here are some important dates for 2014:
- February 28: Attestation deadline for eligible professionals for the 2013 program year
- September 30: End of 2014 fiscal year and end of the 2014 reporting period for eligible hospitals
- November 30: Attestation deadline for eligible hospitals for the 2014 program year
- December 31: End of reporting period for eligible professionals