As of the end of April, more than $14.6 billion in EHR Incentive Program payments have been paid out by the federal government to eligible providers and hospitals in the program, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
There were nearly 395,000 eligible providers and hospitals in “active registration” in the federal meaningful use program, a number that rose by nearly 4,500 in the month of April. According to CMS data, the federal government paid out $5.4 billion in EHR Incentive Program payments in 2011, another $8.8 billion in 2012, and about $437 million so far in 2013.
Also as of April, 191,305 physicians and eligible professionals have received EHR incentive payments from Medicare, while 88,903 have received payments from Medicaid and 11,117 from Medicare Advantage under programs created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Medicare and Medicare Advantage eligible professionals include physicians, optometrists, podiatrists, chiropractors and dentists. Medicaid eligible professionals are physicians, dentists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and certified nurse-midwives.
On May 22, Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that more than half of all doctors and other eligible providers have received Medicare or Medicaid incentive payments for adopting or meaningfully using electronic health records (EHRs).
“We have reached a tipping point in adoption of electronic health records,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement at that time. “More than half of eligible professionals and 80 percent of eligible hospitals have adopted these systems, which are critical to modernizing our healthcare system. Health IT helps providers better coordinate care, which can improve patients’ health and save money at the same time.”
To be eligible for use by clinicians and hospitals in the federal incentive payment programs, EHRs that providers use must be tested and certified to criteria developed by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) at HHS. Providers then must attest that they have adopted, implemented or upgraded to a certified EHR to be eligible for Medicaid payments or attest that they have met the “meaningful-use” criteria for Medicare payments.