New legislation would allow a category of clinics serving low-income patients, as well as the physicians who practice there, to qualify for incentive payments under the federal program aimed at spurring electronic health-record system adoption.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced the Medicaid Information Technology to Enhance Community Health Act of 2012 to allow practitioners working at "qualified safety-net clinics" to qualify for the EHR incentive program.
Additionally, the bill directs HHS to develop a methodology to expand eligibility to the clinics "as an entity, similar to the current process that exists for hospitals."
The legislation pertains to clinics—individual facilities and networks of clinics, operated by a public or a private not-for-profit entity—that have a patient volume of at least 30% "needy individuals."
The "needy individuals" qualifier was created by Congress when it established the incentive program as a way of ensuring that providers practicing at rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers would qualify for the program, even if they did not meet that law's other qualifier of treating at least 30% Medicaid beneficiaries, according to Kerry. The MITECH bill adds language to include qualified safety-net clinics among those eligible for the program.