Instructions for Medicare Federal EHR Incentive Program

To qualify for the Medicare incentive program, you must be using a certified EHR product and meet the meaningful use criteria for any continuous 90 days in the first year of program participation.  Following your first year of participation, meaningful use will be required for the entire year, except for 2014. All participants are permitted to report for 90 days during 2014 to allow for the required adoption or upgrade to a 2014 ONC certified EHR. First year participants must attest to 90 days of meaningful use no later than Oct. 1, 2014 to avoid the penalty in 2015. For first year participants, the reporting period can be any 90 consecutive days, but those participants should begin reporting no later than July 1, 2014 so they can meet the attestation deadline of Oct. 1 for penalty prevention. All other participants can report on 90 days of meaningful use by calendar year quarters (Jan. 1 - Mar. 31, Apr. 1 - June 30, etc.). Attestation is allowed once the 90-days are completed, but must be completed by Feb. 28, 2015.

Prior to completing online attestation, be sure you register for the program. Use the online eligibility tool from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to verify program eligibility prior to registration. CMS will allow a physician to register prior to completing the meaningful use criteria and return later to attest. 

Click here to learn more about the penalties and hardship exemptions.

  

What can I do now?

Step 1:  Select and adopt a certified EHR
Step 2:  Meet the meaningful use criteria 
Step 3:  Register for the Medicare Provider Enrollment, Chain, and Ownership System (PECOS)
Step 4:  Register at the CMS Registration and Attestation Portal     

What can I do later?

Step 5:  Obtain EHR certification code 
Step 6:  Complete reporting and attestation 
Step 7:  Receive incentive payment

 


Step 1: Select and adopt a certified EHR

The Medicare federal incentive program requires the use of a certified EHR. The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) maintains the Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL), a current list of all certified EHR products.  Even if your current product has met previous certifications, be sure your current version is listed.

If you need help finding or selecting an EHR system, you may benefit from technical consulting services from the Texas Regional Extension Centers (RECs).  The RECs are vendor neutral and can help you find a system that fits the needs and budget of your practice.    


Step 2: Meet the meaningful use criteria

In your first year of the program, the Medicare EHR Incentive program requires each physician to meet Stage 1 meaningful use criteria for 90 continuous days.  Physicians must complete a set of 15 core criteria and choose 5 from 10 criteria on a menu set. Following your first year, you are required to meet meaningful use for the entire calendar year, except for 2014. All participants are permitted to report for 90 days during 2014 to allow for the required adoption or upgrade to a 2014 ONC certified EHR. First year participants must attest to 90 days of meaningful use no later than Oct. 1, 2014 to avoid the penalty in 2015. For first year participants, the reporting period can be any 90 consecutive days, but those participants should begin reporting no later than July 1, 2014 so they can meet the attestation deadline of Oct. 1 for penalty prevention. All other participants can report on 90 days of meaningful use by calendar year quarters (Jan. 1 - Mar. 31, Apr. 1 - June 30, etc.). Attestation is allowed once the 90-days are completed, but must be completed by Feb. 28, 2015.

For more information on meaningful use, view the one-hour TMA Meaningful Use Webinar

Other helpful resources: 

STAGE 1: 
Meaningful Use Stage 1 Criteria (at-a-glance) 
Meaningful Use Stage 1 (2013 Definition) - CMS 
Changes to Stage 1 Meaningful Use for 2014 - CMS 
Meaningful Use Stage 1 (2014 Definition) - CMS  
Stage 1 Meaningful Use Calculator (CMS) - allows physicians to determine if they have met the Stage 1 meaningful use guidelines before they attest in the system   

 


Step 3: Register for PECOS

To qualify for Medicare incentives, you must be enrolled in the Provider Enrollment Chain and Ownership System (PECOS).  It is possible for you to be actively billing Medicare and not be enrolled in the PECOS system. If you have not enrolled, visit the PECOS website to create an account.  Questions? View PECOS contact information.  

There are several ways you can verify enrollment in PECOS.  

  1. Use the TMA PECOS Lookup Tool based on the CMS data file that is updated weekly.
  2. Use the online PECOS system to look for your enrollment record.  If no record is displayed, you do not have an enrollment record in PECOS.  
    If you have trouble accessing your information, contact PECOS directly.  
  3. Contact Texas' Medicare contractor Novitas at 855-252-8782. 

Step 4: Register at the  CMS Registration and Attestation website 

 Log in to the site using your National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) web user account.  If you do not already have an NPPES account, visit the NPPES website to register. (Note: If you have an NPI number, you automatically have an NPPES account.)  If you do not have your password, call (866) 484-8049 and select option #6 to have your password reset or e-mail customerservice@npienumerator.com.

 CMS has a Registration User’s Guide (PDF) for the registration and attestation system.  

 Before you can proceed with the attestation process, you will be prompted for a certification ID. This number is a unique identifier assigned to each certified EHR (see step 5).  


Step 5: Visit the  Certified Health IT Product List  (CHPL) to obtain your unique CMS EHR Certification ID 

Choose your EHR, add to cart and press “Get CMS EHR Certification ID.” For more detailed instructions, click here and view the instructions under the "Using the CHPL Website" heading.  


Step 6: Complete reporting and attestation

Once you have successfully completed 90 days of meaningful use, log back on to the CMS Registration and Attestation website to enter attestation data. View the Attestation User Guide for details on how to attest. If you have not successfully met each required measure, you will be required to resubmit. 

Want to make sure you've successfully met each meaningful use measure before officially attesting? 

 


Step 7: Incentive Payment  

Regardless of which year of the program you are in, you must reach 75 percent of Medicare allowable part B charges to be eligible for the maximum incentive (75 percent of total allowable charges). See the following charts for incentive payments by year and payment maximums based on allowable charges.   

Medicare Incentive Payment Chart

75 percent allowable charges - Medicare EHR Incentive Program

Once you’ve completed the above steps and reached 75 percent of Medicare allowable part B charges, you can expect to receive payment from CMS within approximately 6 weeks. If you do not reach the required percentage over the course of the year, CMS will pay 75 percent of total part B charges for the calendar year. 

Need on-site technical consulting help to get you to meaningful use? You don’t have to go on this journey alone. The Texas Regional Extension Centers (REC) can offer assistance if you are looking to select and implement an EHR in your practice, or if you are an existing EHR user looking to optimize your workflow and reach meaningful use.  


Call CMS at (888) 734-6433 to find out registration status, attestation status, payment info and progress towards meeting the threshold for Medicare Part B.

 For more information on the EHR Incentive program contact the Texas Medical Association’s Department of Health Information Technology at (800) 880-5720 or HIT@texmed.org.


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