Meaningful Use FAQs
Q: If I already have an Electronic Health Record (EHR) that has been certified by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT), will I have to buy a new system if the government mandates that only EHRs that meet a higher certification level are considered certified EHRs?
A: On June 18, 2010 the Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule that laid out a process for the certification of electronic health records, so that providers can be assured they are capable of meaningful use. The department has also issued still another regulation that lays out the standards and certification criteria that EHRs must meet in order to be certified. If the EHR you currently use does not meet the standards and certification criteria, and you want to qualify for meaningful use, then you will need to update your existing system or purchase a new one that is accredited.
Q: If an eligible professional uses a certified Electronic Health Record (EHR) in a meaningful way in accordance with the adopted regulations, and meets the requirements established by CMS, could that professional receive both the Medicare EHR payment incentive as well as the Medicaid EHR payment incentive?
A: No, an eligible professional may only receive an EHR payment under either Medicare or Medicaid. CMS expects to more fully address the issue of duplicative payments under Medicare and Medicaid through rulemaking.
Q: What is the maximum incentive an eligible professional can earn for using an Electronic Health Record (EHR) under Medicaid?
A: The statute does not define fixed amounts for the incentive payments, only ceilings that cannot be exceeded. CMS expects that the actual payment amounts will be more fully addressed through notice and comment rulemaking.
Q: What is the maximum Electronic Health Record (EHR) incentive an eligible professional can earn under Medicare?
A: Eligible professionals who adopt Electronic Health Record (EHRs) as early as 2011 or 2012 may be eligible for up to $44,000 in Medicare incentive payments spread out over five years (increased by 10 percent for EPs who predominantly furnish services in a health professional shortage area).
Q: What if my Electronic Health Record (EHR) system costs much more than the incentive the government will pay? May I request additional funds?
A: The Recovery Act does not provide for incentive payments under Medicare or Medicaid beyond the limits established by the legislation, regardless of the cost of the EHR system chosen by eligible professionals or hospitals. With regard to Medicaid, the purpose of the 100 percent FFP provider incentive payments to certain eligible Medicaid providers is to encourage the adoption and meaningful use of certified EHR technology. While the incentive payments are expected to be used for certified EHR technology and support services, including maintenance and training necessary for the adoption and operation of such technology, the incentive payments are not direct reimbursement for such activities, but rather are intended to serve as an incentive for eligible professionals and hospitals to adopt and meaningfully use certified EHR technology.
Q: What is the earliest date the payment adjustments will start to be imposed for eligible professionals and hospitals that are not meaningful Electronic Health Record (EHR) users under the HITECH provisions of the Recovery Act?
A: The HITECH provisions of the Recovery Act establish 2015 as the first year that payment adjustments will start to be imposed on Medicare eligible professionals and hospitals that are not meaningful EHR users. There are no payment adjustments associated with the Medicaid provisions under Section 4201.
Q: How will eligible providers and hospitals apply for incentives if they are using certified Electronic Health Records (EHRs) in accordance with the standards established by Health and Human Services (HHS) under the HITECH portion of the Recovery Act?
A: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will publish a rule establishing the criteria which eligible professionals and hospitals must meet in order to qualify for the EHR incentive payments, including defining meaningful EHR users. The rule will also explain how to apply for those incentives.
Q: How will the public know who has received incentive payments under the Recovery Act?
A: CMS will post the names of those receiving Medicare incentives online. The list will include the elements identified in the Recovery Act: name, business addresses, and business phone number of all Medicare eligible professionals and hospitals who received incentive payments under the Recovery Act. There is no such requirement for CMS to publish the names of those receiving Medicaid incentive payments under Section 4201 though States may opt do so.
Q:How do I know if my vendor product is certified by the government as meeting the current standards to participate in the Meaningful Use incentive program?
A: For an eligible provider to receive incentive payments, the software being used is required to be certified through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology which is under the direction of the Department of Health and Human Services. The following link will direct you to the official site where you can find your product or any that you are reviewing to verify the certification. Stage 2 of the incentive program begins January 1, 2014, and all products must be certified under the 2014 edition certification criteria. The incentive program will not make payments under Stage 2 to products not found on this listing. http://oncchpl.force.com/ehrcert
For answers to additional questions about Meaningful Use and CMS, visit The Official Web site for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. This official web site provides current information about the EHR incentive programs.