ARRA Q&A: When will you get the EMR stimulus checks?

EMR and HIPAA Answer to EMR Stimulus Questions
When will they send the EMR stimulus checks?
I already posted about when the first EMR stimulus checks will go out. This question is a little different since it is about when during the year will you get paid the EMR stimulus once you’ve shown “meaningful use” of a “certified EHR.”

I honestly didn’t know the answer to this question until a few days ago. I’m still not completely sure on the process. Plus, I’m not sure if all the details have really been answered for this question. With that said, Justin Barnes from Greenway said during a webinar that you’ll receive your EMR stimulus check once you reach the max for that year. So, according to Justin, you’ll receive the check once you reach the $18k the first year.

This was pretty surprising to me. I would have thought they’d pay you out a little at a time as you went once you’d satisfied the meaningful use requirement. However, I guess it makes for easier accounting if you just do it all at once. Does anyone else have information on this part of it? It was the first time I’d heard someone describe when the money would actually be paid.

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John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • It was my impression a provider must deliver 3 months worth of meaningful use data (deliver method TBD).

    This would mean the earliest possible time a clinic could receive their 2011 check would be 3 months after the program’s beginning date Jan. 1, 2011 – or more specifically April 1, 2011.

    Following that logic, a clinic that begins their “3 months of meaningful use” on April 1, 2001, would receive their funding on/around July 1, 2011.

  • Brian,
    That’s correct from what I understand and is what I talked about in the previous post linked to above:

    Although, I’m not so sure they’ll receive their check right after they show their 3 months worth of meaningful use. I’m sure there will be some amount of processing time after the 3 months of meaningful use.

    Also, the question above addresses the concept that you might have shown meaningful use, but may not have enough Medicare allowable charges to qualify for the full payment yet. So, you may have shown meaningful use on April 1, 2011, but might not have enough Medicare allowable charges until the end of the year when you’ll receive the payment.

  • A couple of items —

    (1) What you have referenced above is for Medicare. Medicaid disbursements are up to the states.

    (2) For Medicare, as stated above, you will be get only one check. You have to make sure you meet two requirements — (a) you are a “meaningful user” and you have submitted all the data and attestations and (b) you have reached the maixmum billing for the year you are appying– note that in your first year you have to have reached $24K in billing to get the $18K in stimulus money.

    You want to apply when you have (a) and (b) completed. Also, if you are in a multi-physician practice, it might be easier to wait for all the docs to hit their Medicare limit so that you only have to go through this once.

  • Thank you everyone. A friend pointed out this string so I wanted to ensure to elaborate on the comments since it mentioned my name. Yes, Johnathan is correct and so is everyone else that added comments and details. In my speeches & webinars, I do go through all of these specifics but Medicare EPs can submit for their ARRA EHR adoption incentives after their 1st year 90-day MU reporting period and then once they either achieve their $24,000 in “allowables” or December 31st of that first year. Whichever date comes first.

    As an anecdote… If a Medicare EP has a moderate to high Medicare population, they very well may be able to submit for their 1st year ARRA incentive in April or May of that 1st MU year but if they have a lighter Medicare population, they may not hit that $24,000 in “allowables” threshold and it could be later in the year or December 31st before they qualify for their max incentive.

    To add more granularity, if a Medicare EP satisfies their 90-day reporting period that first year but only has $10,000 in “allowables” over that calendar year, they could still qualify for a $7,500 ARRA EHR adoption incentive.

    As Johnathan noted, this is just for Medicare. Every Medicaid program will be dictated by their State HIT Plan.

    I hope that helps. It is great to hear that everyone is on the same page. Thanks again, Justin

  • Thanks for stopping by Justin. Where did you get the information that you would only get paid once you reached the full reimbursement? I’d never seen or heard that until you said it (thus the blog post). Makes sense for easy tracking purposes, but just wondering where you got that information.

  • Sure. In the MU NPRM under Table 24, Part d explaining Form and Timing of Payment ~

    “We propose to make a single,
    consolidated, annual incentive payment
    to EPs. We believe that making a single,
    consolidated payment would be the
    least administratively burdensome for
    both CMS and most EPs. We expect that
    many EPs who demonstrate meaningful
    use of certified EHR technology will
    receive the maximum incentive
    payments. We propose that payments
    would be made on a rolling basis, as
    soon as we ascertain that an EP has
    demonstrated meaningful use for the
    applicable reporting period (that is, 90
    days for the first year or a calendar year
    for subsequent years), and reached the
    threshold for maximum payment.”

    In the MU NPRM version that was shared on 12/30/09, this language begins on Page 200. I believe it starts on P.1910 from the Federal Register version.

    I hope that helps. Thanks, Justin

  • If I may back up, I am not having much luck in finding how we, as a clinic, get ‘signed up’ if you will for this program. We already have EHR implemented. We are a rural health clinic that accepts Medicare and caid. We have been told by our EHR provider that they are CCHIT Certified. From what I have read, we are likely eligible however not sure how to get started. Could someone please advise. Thank you.

  • Todd,
    Great question and as an industry, we still need those specifics from CMS that will be published in the Meaningful Use Rule due probably next month (June). I would also recommend speaking with your EHR provider to understand how they are going to support you in achieving meaningful use using their “ARRA-certified” EHR. Just having an old CCHIT Certification will not be enough. Some companies now have 2011 CCHIT Certification and that is a great step towards ARRA Certification but we still need to wait on the ONC Certification Final Rule to understand exactly what the final EHR Certification Criteria will be.

    Bottom line, we all must wait just a little longer to understand exactly the final steps in what an Eligible Professional (EP) or Eligible Hosptial (EH) must do to secure their 1st Year of EHR incentives.

    I hope that helps. Thanks, Justin Barnes

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