The Medicare electronic health record incentive program recently issued its first round of payments, totaling $75 million, to providers who signed up in the first two weeks that payments were available, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced May 26. The list of several hundred recipients represents a relatively slow start to the program, given that CMS estimates more than 42,600 eligible professionals and hospitals have registered for the Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs to date, and 485,000 are potentially eligible to participate.
Beginning April 18, hospitals and physicians eligible to participate in the Medicare EHR incentive program could, if they choose, begin attesting that they meet the program's meaningful use requirements. Hospitals wishing to attest in FY 2011 must report on the meaningful use measures for a 90-day period during the federal fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
However, hospitals need not attest to meaningful use in FY 2011 to benefit fully from Medicare EHR incentive payments. Medicaid EHR incentive programs are being implemented on a state-by-state basis.
According to CMS, 15 states have initiated their Medicaid EHR incentive programs since January, issuing about $83 million in incentive payments to qualified Medicaid providers to date.
Also on May 26, CMS issued a proposed rule for Medicare’s electronic prescribing incentive program. The rule would allow physicians and other eligible providers who meet meaningful use requirements to apply for a waiver from the 1.0% e-prescribing penalty that will take effect Jan 1, 2012.