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Learn these basics to start preparing to earn stimulus dollars
ISMA e-Reports, March 22, 2010
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The AMA has provided these answers to basic questions about the health information technology (HIT) incentives available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act or stimulus bill.* Keep reading ISMA Reports for details about qualifying for this federal funding.

Who is eligible for the stimulus HIT incentives?

Those defined as an “eligible professional” (EP).Under Medicare that means a doctor of medicine or osteopathy who is not hospital based can qualify for incentive payments based on an amount equal to 75 percent of allowed Medicare Part B charges.

Under Medicaid, a physician, dentist, certified nurse midwife, nurse practitioner or physician assistant in a rural health clinic or federally qualified health center is eligible if Medicaid patients are 30 percent of patient volume. For pediatricians that’s reduced to 20 percent. You cannot get incentives under both Medicare and Medicaid. More details are expected.

Can hospital-owned physician practices get paid for EHR participation?

If hospital-owned practices provide a substantial amount of their services outside the hospital, they might qualify for the stimulus funds. It is not yet clear whether incentives would flow through the hospital or through the providers.

Physicians solely hospital-based (ER doctors, anesthesiologist, pathologists, etc.) are not eligible, since the hospital incurs the EHR expense.

How will the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) pay the incentive – through individual checks once a year, once a month?

Medicare and Medicaid EPs would receive a single, consolidated, annual incentive payment. Medicare EPs would be paid electronically via their Medicare contractor. Medicaid EPs would receive payment from either the state Medicaid agency or a designated intermediary (i.e., a Medicaid HMO).

Payments would be distributed on a rolling basis, as soon as you have: 1) demonstrated meaningful use for the applicable reporting period (90 consecutive days for first year or the calendar year for subsequent years); and 2) reached the threshold for maximum payment.

How can practices already using an EHR benefit?

Incentives are available to both new and early adopters of EHRs. However, all EHRs must meet certification/qualification requirements. Early adopters may need to upgrade to newer versions of their EHR products, depending on the standards rule. Federal agencies are required to develop standards on interoperability, security and more. Stay tuned for more details.

How will I know if my EHR is certified?

The independent Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT) has been certifying EHR systems since 2006. For purposes of qualifying products for stimulus incentives, CCHIT anticipates, but has not yet received, federal accreditation. Keep checking the CCHIT Web site.

Is there an Internet forum or bulletin board where I can get updates on HIT developments?

Yes. Visit here to join the Health-IT Listserv and stay current on information.

How do we file or apply so Medicare/Medicaid knows to reimburse us?

The ISMA has even more help for you
The ISMA has even more help for you
Register today for the upcoming EHR Best Practice Series being presented around the state this spring. It offers assistance with EHR selection, implementation, budgeting – and more. To register, visit the ISMA Web site or call Jill Bruce at the ISMA.

CMS will conduct outreach efforts later this year to ensure you understand all policies and requirements related to eligibility, selection of either Medicare or Medicaid, incentive payments and demonstration of meaningful use.

See March 6 ISMA Reports for details about recently announced Indiana Regional Extension Centers. These entities will educate, assist and “hold your hand” to help you obtain EHR incentive dollars. The centers are expected to be operational next month, providing technical assistance by defined geographic area.

To read more of the AMA question and answer document, visit here. For an AMA Webinar series, visit here.

*Based on Notice of Proposed Rule Making by CMS on 12/30/09 and subject to comment period. Subject to change.

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