Physicians participating in the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program must attest every year of the five-year program to continue receiving meaningful use incentive payments. Attestation is the process by which a physician proves to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that he or she meaningfully uses an EHR.
Oct. 1 is the last chance for first-year participants to achieve 90 days of meaningful use.
For example, if a physician attested in the 2011 payment year but does not attest for 2012, he or she forfeits the 2012 payment and cannot make it up the next year. The physician can attest again in 2013 and receive the third payment-year incentive.
Physicians attesting for payment years 2011, 2012, and 2013 must meet stage 1 meaningful use criteria. The more-advanced stage 2 meaningful use will be required of participants beginning in 2014; the final rules for stage 2 should be available later this summer. Stage 3 meaningful use rules are not yet proposed and likely won't be introduced until 2013. TMA will apprise you of the rules as they become available.
Physicians participating in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program can skip years during the attestation process. The six-year Medicaid EHR Incentive Program pays out until 2021. Physicians can attest now and then skip a couple of years before having to attest for their second year of the program. The caveat in waiting too long is that physicians would have to comply with the more-advanced stages of meaningful use.
The EHR incentive program is complex in requiring physicians to meet varied and more difficult stages as they progress through the multiyear program. To help, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (HIT) established regional extension centers (RECs) to provide onsite HIT consulting in physician practices. The RECs received grant funding to subsidize the consulting costs for primary care physicians. RECs can assist specialists but not at the subsidized rate. For details on eligibility and REC services, visit the REC Resource Center on the TMA website.
For questions regarding attestation or other HIT needs, contact TMA's Department of Health Information Technology at (800) 880-5720 or by email.
Action, Aug. 1, 2012