Healthcare Business News

CMS official: $400 million in EHR incentive payments issued

By Joseph Conn
Posted: August 4, 2011 - 12:00 pm ET

Tens of thousands of healthcare providers have signed up for federal electronic health-record system incentive payment programs that have paid hundreds of millions of dollars this year, a federal official said at a meeting of the Health Information Technology Policy Committee.

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Robert Tagalicod, the director of the Office of eHealth Standards and Services at the CMS, told members of the federally chartered health IT advisory body that 77,000 providers have registered for the EHR incentive payments authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Twenty-one states have their Medicaid EHR incentive payment programs open to receive provider registrations, and more than 3,500 providers have received their first payments under the various operational Medicaid programs, he said.

Thus far under the federal Medicare incentive program, which has more-stringent first-year requirements—providers must attest that they have achieved meaningful use of their EHRs, whereas under Medicaid, providers need only to contract for a new or upgraded EHR system—100 hospitals and 2,383 physicians and other "eligible professions" have attested that they've met the Medicare meaningful-use requirements.

Combined, the programs have paid out $400 million in incentive payments, Tagalicod said.

Farzad Mostashari, head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS, gave a pep talk to policy committee members, saying the national health IT policies that they are helping guide with their "absolutely essential" discussions and advice "are finding purchase in the real world."

Mostashari said he is pleased with the progress he has seen during a series of regional meetings he has had with federal health IT grantees, including regional health IT extension centers. "There is an incredible amount of movement that is happening," he said.

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