Health IT Pulse

Jan 5 2011   12:00AM GMT

State Medicaid EHR incentive programs open for business

Don Fluckinger Profile: Don Fluckinger

Tags:
blumenthal
CMS
EHR
EHR incentives
EHRIP
EMR
medicaid
medicare
ONC

Turning the calendar over to 2011 means it’s a whole new ballgame, both for NFL players — who have finished their regular season and are about to embark on their playoff march to the Super Bowl — and for physicians planning to reap Electronic Health Records Incentive Program (EHRIP) funds from Medicaid.

Physicians can get the incentive ball rolling by first consulting the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) eligibility page to make sure they qualify. Then they must enroll in their state’s program. More states may be ready, but as of Jan. 3, Louisiana, Massachusetts and 11 other states listed on the CMS site had officially made it known they were opening enrollment.

The key piece of technology enabling the enrollment program, the National Level Repository (NLR), just came online Dec. 14. It’s essentially a database the feds have created to ensure that no physician double-dips EHR incentives by enrolling in two different state Medicaid programs, or enrolling for both Medicare and Medicaid incentives. It’s administered through a CMS registration portal, which physicians eventually will navigate at some point during their incentive-enrollment journey.

A recent survey from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) finds that the percentage of CIOs who expect their organization to qualify for meaningful use incentive payments by April 2011 dropped from 28% in August to 15% in November. In other words, the closer the meaningful use program gets to opening, the less optimistic CIOs are about qualifying for the first wave of EHRIP payments.

“I’m not surprised that the CIOs are looking more closely at the April time frame, but April is just April. They’ve got two years to become meaningful users in Stage 1,” said national health IT coordinator Dr. David Blumenthal in an interview posted this week at iHealthBeat.

Although Blumenthal didn’t contest CHIME’s findings, he said, “We have some other data that we hope to be releasing in not too long that’s a good deal more optimistic than this data.”

Happy New Year, indeed! Guess it’s time to put down those champagne glasses and get back to work.

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