Medicare, Medicaid Incentives Reach $30M

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has paid $30 million in electronic health record (EHR) incentive dollars to Texas physicians in 2011, according to a federal official.

The funds received by Texas physicians and hospitals comprise 20 percent of the $870 million already distributed throughout the country. Hospitals in Texas have received $158 million in incentives since the incentive program started Jan. 1, 2011. A total of 11,000 Texas physicians have registered to participate, while only 1,400 have completed the steps necessary to earn the incentive dollars.

Helping physicians earn federal EHR incentives, the Texas Regional Extension Centers (RECs) were created with federal dollars to provide on-site technical consulting. RECs can help your office enable the full use and potential of health information technology. Texas is home to four RECs, with services to take your practice from its current state – whether you are starting with a paper-based system or looking to optimize your current EHR system – to "meaningful use" to qualify for the federal EHR incentives. The Texas RECs understand the unique challenges physicians face and will work with you to fully realize the benefits of EHRs in improving efficiencies and patient care.

Primary care physicians qualify for a grant that lowers the annual price of REC services to $300 per physician. Federal incentives for consulting and EHR use are unprecedented and will not last long. Learn more about the Texas RECs, available incentives, REC and incentive eligibility, and meaningful use by visiting TMA's REC Resource Center.

Still have a question? Call the TMA Health Information Technology Helpline at (800) 880-5720, or email TMA HIT.

Action, Oct. 17, 2011