CMS: Let the meaningful use attestation begin

By Mary Mosquera
01:39 PM
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is making the final preparations to stand up its attestation system April 18 so healthcare providers can verify that they are meaningful users of certified electronic health records (EHRs).
The launch of the online attestation system marks the beginning of the activities that will result in payments under the CMS Medicare EHR Incentive Program for physicians and hospitals that qualify.  
To receive a Medicare incentive, providers must confirm that they have fulfilled the certified technology and quality objectives for meaningful use. CMS will begin in May to issue payments.
Physicians can receive $18,000 if they qualify in 2011 or 2012 and up to a total of $44,000 through 2015 if they continue to qualify. Hospitals begin with base payments of $2 million a year through 2015 if they qualify.  
CMS has created a foundation with its Web site for the providers to be able to attest, said Todd Shore, a senior manager for health IT at Deloitte Consulting LLP. CMS has made the website easy to access and supplied tutorials, including PDF-format guides about how to get started, registration and verification procedures.
“They’ve broken it down step-by-step through the preview screen shots at the Web site and where to go and how to access things,” he told Government Health IT April 15.
Physicians must report on 15 core measures, five of 10 menu option measures, and six clinical quality measures, which consist of three required core measures and three additional measures. Hospitals must report on 14 core measures, five of 10 menu measures, and 15 clinical quality measures.
To attest, providers report results for numerator and denominator, or the number of patients among clients seen for which a provider has used a measure. The CMS online system will calculate the percent of patients, or the exclusion of those results if that applies, for the meaningful use objectives and quality measures.
For stage one of meaningful use, providers have a 90-day reporting period. To assure that providers start their reporting period in time to attest and receive a Medicare payment in 2011, hospitals should start their 90-day period by July 3 and physicians by Oct. 1.
Shore said that Deloitte has been helping its clients prepare by performing a mock attestation.
“That means that we are going through line by line, measure by measure, to make sure that if they were ever audited by the government around meaningful use they could produce and clearly articulate the criteria, as well as the evidence in which they met the criteria during the defined period of time,” he said.
Individual physicians need to be as well prepared as hospitals with the relevant information and the correct numbers for them to attest to, he explained.
“Smaller practices are sometimes not as up to speed to some of the idiosyncrasies around meaningful use. So it is important to just take the time to make sure their EHR is able to report the appropriate criteria for them to qualify for meaningful use and having the evidence behind it,” he advised.
Providers can find a list of about 500 certified EHRs or modules at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT website.
The Medicaid EHR Incentive Program, which states administer, varies by state. Thirteen states have launched their incentive programs, according to the CMS timeline, including Alaska, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.
Six of the states have issued payment to providers who have adopted or upgraded certified EHRs, according to the agency.
CMS said it has paid out $64,036,534 from January to April in the EHR incentive program so far.