Two states, Kentucky and Oklahoma, have already made the first incentive payments to physicians and hospitals enrolled in their Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) incentive programs. Texas Medicaid officials indicate payments for Texas physicians will start around May.
"The quick release of EHR incentive dollars should be a clear message to all physicians that these programs are not just bureaucratic talk from Washington. There is real money flowing to physicians," said Michael Stearns, MD, president and chief executive officer of e-MDs.
Physicians can receive up to $63,750 over six years for achieving "meaningful use" of a certified EHR if they have at least a 30-percent Medicaid patient volume. Pediatricians can qualify for up to $42,000 with a 20-percent Medicaid volume. The program is state regulated, and Texas physicians who register and adopt, implement, or upgrade a certified EHR in year one of the incentive program are eligible to receive the first-year EHR incentive.
Medicaid incentives require physicians to meet "meaningful use" for 90 days in the second year of the program; it is not required in year one. Years three through six require achieving "meaningful use" for the full calendar year. Physicians may participate in only one EHR incentive program – Medicare or Medicaid – although they may switch programs once before 2015. Those receiving federal Medicaid EHR incentives may still apply for e-prescribing and Physician Quality Reporting Initiative incentives, if eligible. Early adopters of EHRs are eligible for incentives; it does not matter when an EHR system was purchased as long as it is certified for "meaningful use." The Certified HIT Product List provides a complete listing of tested and certified EHRs.
Visit the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) website to register for the EHR incentive program. In addition to the CMS registration, there are Texas Medicaid enrollment requirements. Enrollment for the incentive program through Texas Medicaid will open Feb. 14. Texas Medicaid will host webinar demonstrations of the enrollment process on Thursday, Feb. 3, from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm and from 5 to 6:30 pm (CST). Register online to participate in the webinar.
Regional extension centers (RECs) have been established to help physicians work through some of the details of EHR selection, adoption, and achievement of meaningful use. Primary care physicians are eligible for onsite consulting services at a subsidized rate of only $300 per year.
For more information on RECs and stimulus incentives, visit the TMA website; contact the TMA Health Information Technology helpline at (800) 880-5720; or e-mail hit[at]texmed[dot]org.
Action, Feb. 1, 2011