CMS paid $5.7B in EHR incentives through May

By Diana Manos
12:19 PM
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In an update to the payment information released earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced the agency has paid out more than $5.7 billion in incentives to eligible providers for the meaningful use of electronic health records.

The update, released June 19, showed more than 100,000 healthcare providers received bonuses under the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs.

Earlier this year the agency's Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Farzad Mostashari, MD, set a goal to get 100,000 healthcare providers to adopt or meaningfully use EHRs by the end of 2012.

"Today, that goal has already been met and surpassed," CMS officials said in a written statement.

“Meeting this goal so early in the year is a testament to the commitment of everyone who has worked hard to meet the challenges of integrating EHRs and health information technology into clinical practice,” said Tavenner.

“Not only have state Medicaid programs, public health departments, and many other stakeholders given their support to the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, but numerous health professionals and hospitals have recognized the potential of EHRs to provide better patient care, cut down on paperwork, and eliminate duplicate screenings and tests,” she said.

[See also: 5 steps to drive providers to Direct exchange]

Also announced by CMS, as of the end of May 2012:

• More than 2,400 eligible hospitals have been paid by the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.

• Approximately 48 percent of all eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals in the U.S. have received an incentive payment for adopting, implementing, upgrading, or meaningfully using an EHR.

• One out of every 5 Medicare and Medicaid eligible professionals in the U.S. has received an incentive payment for adopting, implementing, upgrading, or meaningfully using an EHR.

More than $3 billion in Medicare EHR Incentive Program payments were made between May 2011 (when the first payments were released) and the end of May 2012. More than $2.6 billion in Medicaid EHR Incentive Program payments were made between January 2011 (when the first states launched their programs) and the end of May 2012.

“The EHR Incentive Programs have really helped jump-start the use of electronic health records by health care providers all across the country,” said Mostashari.

“Thanks in great part to the work conducted by the ONC-sponsored Regional Extension Centers (RECs) and Beacon Communities Programs, more and more providers across the country – especially those in rural communities – are now ready to use EHRs,” he said.

Through the end of May 2012, over 133,000 primary care providers and 10,000 specialists were partnering with RECs to overcome common EHR adoption barriers, according to CMS. Of these providers, 70 percent of small practice providers in rural areas as well as 74 percent of critical access hospitals are working with RECs.

More than 12,000 providers working with RECS have already received their incentive payments, CMS officials said.