Eligible healthcare professionals and hospitals can begin registering to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record payment system.
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To prepare for registration, CMS said, interested providers should familiarize themselves with the requirements on the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs' Web site. The site provides information on the programs, including tabs on the path to payment, eligibility, meaningful use, certified EHR technology, and frequently asked questions.
CMS announced the following key dates in 2011 for the Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs:
Jan. 3: Registration for the Medicare EHR incentive program begins. States that are ready may launch their incentive programs for Medicaid providers.
January 2011: Some state agencies begin issuing Medicaid EHR incentive payments.
April 2011: Attestation for the Medicare EHR incentive program begins.
May 2011: Issuing of Medicare EHR incentive payments expected to begin.
July 3: Last day for eligible hospitals to begin their 90-day reporting period to demonstrate meaningful use for the Medicare EHR incentive program for federal FY 2011.
Sept. 30: Federal FY 2011 payment year ends at midnight for eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs).
Oct. 3: Last day for eligible professionals to begin their 90-day reporting period for calendar year 2011 to demonstrate meaningful use for the Medicare EHR incentive program.
Nov. 30: Last day for eligible hospitals and CAHs to register and attest to receive an incentive payment for federal fiscal year 2011.
Dec. 31: Calendar 2011 payment year ends for eligible professionals.
Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments will be available to eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and CAHs when they adopt certified EHR technology and successfully demonstrate meaningful use of the technology in ways that improve quality, safety, and effectiveness of patient-centered care.
According to CMS, professionals who meet the eligibility requirements for both the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs must select which program they wish to participate in when they register. They cannot participate in both programs; however, after receiving payment, they may change their program selection once before 2015. Hospitals that are eligible for both programs can receive payments from both Medicare and Medicaid.
Under the EHR incentive programs, eligible professionals can receive as much as $44,000 over a five-year period through Medicare. For Medicaid, eligible professionals can receive as much as $63,750 over six years. Under both Medicare and Medicaid, eligible hospitals may receive millions of dollars for implementing and meaningfully using certified EHR technology.