Over the past several months there has been a surge in conversation and hype regarding the upcoming Meaningful Use incentive payments. Until now, the focus of this discussion has been centered around the requirements and payments to, what the CMS has deemed, ‘eligible providers.’ In a recent letter sent by the CMS, steps are outlined for states to receive matching federal funds for administrative expenses related to the MU payment programs. These requirements have recently been summarized in an iHealthbeat article, proving that the the state’s voluntary situation when it comes to the payments is being promoted by the federal governement.
Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records will receive incentive payments through Medicaid and Medicare. States can receive a 90% federal funding match for incentive payments distributed to Medicaid providers who adopt EHRs under the meaningful use criteria.
To warrant this payment matching, the CMS has asked state entities to perform a few responsibilities including:
- create and enhance data warehouses
- develop interfaces with data repositories and HIEs
- establish master patient indexes
- organize workshops, meetings and webinars to promote education
- administer the incentive payments to those that qualify
- track MU attestations
- pursue programs to promote the adoption of certified EHRs
These requirements seem to be aimed at building the amount of stored clinical data for future IT systems, as well as to take some of the administrative burdens off of the federal government. Jessica Kahn, technical director for health IT at CMS, proposes that “states should no wait until every detail has been released before starting their incentive programs.” She goes on to say that the CMS’ letter recommends approaching the program incrementally. With new incentives such as this, it seems clear that state agencies will be pushing to identify those systems that qualify E.P.’s for meaningful use without the cost of a full-blown EMR.