There was a gold rush in December, and not just at the malls.
The CMS estimates it paid out a record $1.2 billion in December as hospitals, physicians and other professionals filed a flood of claims for Medicare and Medicaid electronic health-record system incentive payments.
"This is our single largest monthly payment by a factor of three," Robert Anthony, a health insurance specialist with the CMS' Office of eHealth Standards and Services, said Tuesday to members of the Health Information Technology Policy Committee.
For the month of December, Medicare paid out $175 million and Medicaid paid $80 million in EHR-use incentives to physicians and other professionals, while Medicare and Medicaid paid $1 billion to hospitals, according to CMS estimates. The December payments pushed the total estimated payouts since the start of the EHR incentive programs, created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, to $10.3 billion, Anthony said.
The deluge of applications continued in early 2013, with 2,000 eligible professionals filing incentive payment claims on a single day, Jan. 2, the first business day of the new year, Anthony said.
Final numbers for 2012 for the EHR incentive programs won't be ready until June or July, he said. The programs for physicians and other professionals operate on a calendar year, with participants allowed an additional 60 days into the new year before their attestations of meaningful use and payment applications for 2012 must be filed.