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EHR incentive pay slows in May

By Joseph Conn

The sailing term is luffing. When a boat points too close to the wind, its sails flap with little power and its forward progress slows.

Incentive payments for physicians and other eligible professionals to implement electronic health records moved forward in May, according to the latest report from the CMS. But after four straight months of records for the number of payments made, the May figures (PDF) are rather flappy.

The data through May indicate 292,217 physicians and other professionals have received payments from Medicare, Medicaid or Medicare Advantage as part of the EHR incentive programs created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. That's up by just 892 EP payment recipients in May, compared with a program record 34,329 EP recipients receiving payments in April. That April jump pushed the nation over the hump in that more than half (55.3%) of the estimated 527,200 eligible professionals had been paid.

The modest May increase inched that percentage to only 55.4%. The May increase in paid EPs was the lowest since June 2011.

Total hospitals receiving EHR incentive payments rose by 64 new hospitals receiving payments from April to May, for an increase of 2%. The total stands at 3,944 hospitals paid, or 78.7% of 5,011 eligible hospitals. In April there were 53 newly paid hospitals.

Combined, the EHR incentive payment programs have doled out about $15.1 billion since incentive payments began in January 2011.

Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn


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