Applying for EHR Incentives

January 25, 2011

The following article appeared in the HITOC newsletter for January, 2011. 


Electronic health records incentives registration started Jan. 3, 2011


The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) have announced the availability of registration for the Medicare and  Medicaid electronic health record (EHR) incentive programs. CMS and ONC encourage broad participation and are providing online and in-person resources that are in place to assist eligible professionals and eligible hospitals who wish to participate.


As of Jan. 3, 2011, registration is available for eligible health care professionals and eligible hospitals who wish to participate in the Medicare EHR incentive program. Some states have also launched their  Medicaid EHR program. Oregon anticipates launching the Oregon Medicaid EHR incentive program in the summer of 2011, and Oregon eligible providers will receive information about the specific launch date  when it is available.


“It’s time to get connected,” said David Blumenthal, MD, MPP, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. “ONC and CMS have worked together over many months to prepare for the startup on  January 3rd. ONC’s Certified HIT Product List includes more than 130 certified EHR systems or modules and is updated frequently. ONC also has hands-on assistance available across the country through 62  Regional Extension Centers.”  In Oregon, those providers who need help with meeting meaningful use, beginning with the selection of an EHR system or the assessment of whether a current system needs to be upgraded, should contact  O-HITEC, Oregon's Regional Extension Center.


To prepare for registration, interested providers should familiarize themselves with the incentive programs’ requirements by visiting CMS’ Official Web Site for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive  Programs. The site provides general and detailed information on the programs, including tabs on the path to payment, eligibility, meaningful use, certified EHR technology, and frequently asked questions. In  addition, the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Information Center is open to assist the EHR Provider Community with both program and system inquiries from 7:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. (Central Time) Monday  through Friday, except federal holidays, at 1-888-734-6433 (primary number) or 888-734-6563 (TTY number).


Eligible hospitals can apply for both Medicare and Medicaid incentives. If there is any chance that they will apply to both, hospitals should indicate at registration with CMS that they intend to apply for both the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs. There is no penalty if the hospital later decides to apply under one program in 2011. However, it will be very difficult to add the second program to the initial registration. Eligible professionals can only receive incentive payments through one incentive program (either Medicare or Medicaid) not both.

Oregon’s Medicaid EHR Incentive Program has posted a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) resource on its website, which includes information specific to Oregon’s Medicaid EHR incentive program.


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