Federal EHR payouts hit record heights

'This is the calm before the storm.'

The federal dollars for providers and hospitals attesting to meaningful use keep on coming.

As of September, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has paid out more than $16.5 billion to eligible providers and hospitals, representing a slight decrease in attestation rates from earlier months, said Rob Anthony, deputy director at the CMS Office of E-Health Standards and Service. But that decline was reportedly expected.

"This is the calm before the storm," Anthony said when speaking at the Nov. 6 HIT Policy Committee Meeting. "We will continue to see an upward trend of these numbers as we move into January and February."

As of the end of September, CMS reported a significant number of hospitals and eligible providers now actively participating in the electronic health record incentive program, with 425,000 registered for the program and 325,00 unique providers having received some kind of incentive payment thus far.

[See also: EHR incentive payouts climb.]

Attestation remains open for hospitals until the end of November, and CMS is still seeing hospitals come in, Anthony added. The trend is typically that registrants sign on in the last couple of weeks of the attestation period.

During the federal government shutdown, all systems were active and receiving registrations, he said, so the figures for September are complete.

Ninety-one percent of the 5,011 hospitals in the U.S. are now registered for the meaningful use program, Anthony reports. Further, 61 percent of all eligible Medicare providers in the program are non-primary care physicians.

Other highlights of CMS’s to-date September report include:

  • Approximately 83 percent of all eligible hospitals have received an EHR incentive payment for either MU or AIU
  • More than 8 out of 10 eligible hospitals have made a financial commitment to an EHR
  • Approximately 56 percent or more than 1 out of every 2 Medicare EPs are meaningful users of EHRs
  • Approximately 73 percent or nearly 3 out of every 4 Medicaid EPs of have received an EHR incentive payment
  • Sixteen percent of Medicaid EPs are meaningful users
  • Over 60 percent -- 3 out of every 5 Medicare and Medicaid EPs have made a financial commitment to an EHR

This story first appeared in Government Health IT here