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Back to the Basics of Meaningful Use

December 22, 2011

It is an inevitability that many attempting to delay. Electronic health records (EHR) are not going away. The deadline to take full advantage of the financial incentives available from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for incorporation and proving Meaningful Use (MU) is approaching.
It’s not too late to identify the right system for your practice. It’s important to note, however, that you must prove MU in 2011 or 2012 in order to receive the maximum payout of up to $44,000. Those providers practicing in under-served or rural areas are eligible for up to $48,400 in Medicare reimbursements.

The following table shows the reduction in Medicare reimbursements by delaying adoption of EHR and proof of meaningful use.


Table 1

Some providers may find it more beneficial to take advantage of the Medicaid bonus program based upon payer mix. Although participants have until 2016 to prove Meaningful Use and can receive up to $63,750 in incentives, the process is more complex. In order to participate in this program, a provider must prove that at least 30 percent of the practice’s patients receive Medicaid benefits. There are several calculators available to help providers choose the program best suited to the practice.

The following table shows the maximum disbursement schedule for providers choosing the Medicaid Meaningful Use Program.
Table 2
It’s not too late to start working toward attestation in 2012. But, if you have yet to begin researching EHR systems, the time is now. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly, as the initial investment and time commitment can be substantial. It’s important to note that incentive payments are available not just when the program is incorporated, but when Meaningful Use is proven. That means systems will need to be implemented and staff trained in the new technology before Meaningful Use will ever be established.
In 2011, CMS established three phases of MU. By 2015 Medicare eligible professionals and hospitals will be required to meet MU or may be subjected to financial penalties. Financial penalties may include a reimbursement reduction of one percent the first year and up to three percent by 2017.
With uncertainty surrounding the criteria for Stage 2, CMS has recently extended Stage 1 until 2014, giving an additional year to those who have not already attested. The requirements for Stage 2 and Stage 3 have not yet been clearly defined by CMS.

Here are some key dates:
February 29, 2012: Last day to attest to Stage 1 in order to receive payment for usage in 2011.
Sometime in 2014: Medicare eligible participants must meet Stage 2 of Meaningful Use.
December 31, 2014: Last day to qualify for any type of Medicare incentives.
January 1, 2015: First day Medicare penalties may be implemented.
December 31, 2016: Last day to qualify for any type of Medicaid incentives.

Don’t get left out of receiving the thousands of dollars to help offset the cost of EHR implementation. Start the process today.

 

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About the Author

Irene Froehlich

Ms. Froehlich has been with DrFirst since its inception in 2000. In her role as Director of Marketing, she oversees the planning, directing, and coordinating all marketing and public relations efforts at DrFirst. Ms. Froehlich has a B.S. in Communications from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.

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