January 12, 2011

CMS Opens EHR Incentive Program Registration for Eligible Hospitals and Professionals

Holland & Knight Alert
Maria T. Currier

Eligible hospitals and professionals may now register to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record (EHR) incentive programs set forth under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act), part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) opened registration for participation in the Medicare EHR program on January 3, 2011.


Eligibility to receive incentive payments under the EHR program is generally based on the provider’s adoption and implementation of “certified EHR technology” and the successful demonstration of “meaningful use” of such technology. Meaningful use is demonstrated by showing compliance with specified objectives and measures governing the use of a certified EHR. ARRA specifies three main components of meaningful use: (1) the use of a certified EHR in a meaningful manner; (2) the use of certified EHR technology for electronic exchange of health information to improve quality of healthcare; and (3) the use of certified EHR technology to submit clinical quality and other measures. For additional information on standards for EHR, meaningful use and technology certification under the HITECH Act, see Holland & Knight’s Healthcare & Life Sciences Alert for August 12, 2010.

Eligible professionals may receive up to $44,000 over a five-year period through Medicare and up to $63,750 over a six-year period through Medicaid, and eligible hospitals may receive millions of dollars. Medicaid EHR incentive payments will be issued as early as January 2011. Medicare EHR incentive payments are expected to begin in May 2011.

Importance of Participation

Although participation in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs is not mandatory, providers that fail to adopt, implement and meaningfully use certified EHR technology in the coming years will face certain losses. Failure to implement an EHR platform by 2012 will prohibit the provider from receiving the maximum amount of incentive payments, and those who fail to implement an EHR platform by 2014 will not receive any incentive payments. Additionally, providers that do not implement an EHR platform by 2015 will begin facing payment adjustments in their Medicare reimbursements in 2015. To avoid such losses and to maximize the amount of incentive payments, providers should familiarize themselves with the requirements of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs and register as soon as possible.

Status in the States

The states in which the Medicaid EHR incentive program is now open are Alaska, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Registration for the Medicaid EHR incentive program in other states will open later this year, including registration in California, Missouri and North Dakota to open in February. Registration for the Medicare EHR incentive program is currently open in all states.

Eligible professionals may only participate in either the Medicare or the Medicaid EHR incentive program, not both. Thus, when registering, eligible professionals must select which program in which they wish to participate. After receiving payment, professionals may only change their selection once before 2015. Hospitals that meet both the Medicare and Medicaid eligibility requirements may participate in and receive incentive payments from both programs.

Holland & Knight can provide additional information on the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs, and assist you in finding out more about how you or your business or organization may benefit from the offered incentives.

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