On June 16, 2009, on the same date the ONC HIT Policy Committee released the first draft of “meaningful use” of electronic health records (EHRs), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) launched the CMS Health Information Technology Website to address health information technology (Health IT or HIT) under the ARRA’s Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act). The CMS HIT website focuses on the following three areas of ARRA Health IT:
- Health IT incentives and support for adoption
- Establishment of Health IT standards and infrastructure
- Privacy and security pertaining to Health IT
These are the three main areas pertaining to Health IT in which CMS will be involved under the HITECH Act.
In addition, the CMS HIT website provides a fact sheet that gives an overview of the incentives available to hospitals and eligible professionals. The fact sheet includes Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). The FAQs include the following answer to one of questions I frequently get: When will CMS begin paying the incentives?:
By statute, the earliest dates that CMS will be able to pay an incentive under Medicare is October 1, 2010, for hospitals and January 1, 2011, for eligible professionals.
The statute does not define a date for the Medicaid incentives program. Given the range of regulatory and planning activities that must precede States being able to make provider incentive payments, as well as the importance of coordinating Medicaid and Medicare payments to prevent duplication, CMS does not expect that States will be able to make such payments until 2011.
The FAQs also confirm that eligible professionals must adopt in 2011 or 2012 to qualify for the maximum Medicare incentive payment of $44,000. In addition, 2015 is the year that CMS will begin imposing negative payment adjustments on Medicare eligible professionals and hospitals who are not making a meaningful use of EHRs. The HITECH Act does not require a similar payment adjustment for Medicaid providers.
One of the FAQs addresses yet another question I frequently get and that’s how to apply for the incentive payments. CMS responds:
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will publish a rule establishing the criteria which eligible professionals and hospitals must meet in order to qualify for the EHR incentive payments, including defining meaningful EHR users. The rule will also explain how to apply for those incentives.
A link to the CMS HIT website will remain available on the Links section of this HITECH Law Blog.