Meaningful Use Payments Reach $25B as of Sept. 30, CMS Says

As of Sept. 30, CMS had paid out more than $25 billion in incentive payments to eligible hospitals and professionals participating in the meaningful use program, according to the latest CMS data, FierceEMR reports (Durben Hirsch, FierceEMR, 11/4).

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Incentive payments are up slightly compared with data from a previous report, which stated $24.8 billion had been paid to hospitals and providers through the program as of the end of July (iHealthBeat, 9/4).

Attestation Details

During a Health IT Policy Committee meeting on Tuesday, Elisabeth Myers of CMS' Office of eHealth Standards and Services said that more than 500,000 active participants had signed up for the incentive program as of Nov.1 (FierceEMR, 11/4). However, not every provider who registered has necessarily participated (iHealthBeat, 9/4).

Specifically, for the 2014 reporting period:

  • 43,898 eligible professionals had attested to meaningful use, including 15,481 new participants; and
  • 1,903 eligible hospitals had attested to meaningful use, including 221 new participants (CMS data, 11/4).

Of those attesters, CMS said that 11,478 eligible professionals and 840 eligible hospitals had attested to Stage 2 of the meaningful use program.

Dawn Heisey-Grove of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT noted that 87% of eligible professionals who attested to Stage 2 accepted an exclusion for a requirement to provide or send summary of care information electronically, while 54% accepted an exclusion on Stage 2's immunization reporting requirements.

Overall, Heisey-Grove said that ONC expects the attestation numbers to increase as most providers wait until the "last minute" to attest (FierceEMR, 11/4).

Medicare eligible hospitals have until Nov. 30 to attest for 2014, while Medicare eligible providers have until Feb. 28, 2015 to attest for 2014 (CMS website, 10/7).

Reaction

In a release, officials from four prominent health care organizations called the results "disappointing, yet predictable."

College of Healthcare Information Management Executives President and CEO Russell Branzell said the new data "have validated the concerns of providers and IT leaders." He added, "Providers have struggled mightily in 2014, in many instances for reasons beyond their control. If nothing is done to help them get back on track in 2015, we will continue to see growing dissatisfaction with EHRs and disenchantment with meaningful use" (FierceEMR, 11/4).

Medical Group Management Association Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Anders Gilberg added, "Shortening the reporting period in 2015 is a much needed change if the program is to remain viable and is a critical step if the nation is to continue making progress toward the goal of interoperability."

Carla Smith, executive vice president of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, said, "If CMS continues to require a full-year of meaningful use reporting for 2015, we anticipate that large segments of providers will no longer be able to participate in the program -- which hinders our nation's ability to improve the quality, safety, cost-effectiveness, and access to care."

American Medical Association President-Elect Steven Stack, said, "In addition to a shortened reporting period, CMS must end its one-size-fits all approach to achieve the goals of the meaningful use program, which are to create a secure and interoperable infrastructure." He added, "We believe the stringent pass fail requirements for meeting meaningful use, combined with a tsunami of other overlapping regulations, are keeping physicians from participating in the meaningful use program" (CHIME release, 11/4).

Source: iHealthBeat, Tuesday, November 4, 2014

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