EMR Stimulus Q&A: Government Incentives for EMR Adoption Outside of Medicare and Medicaid

Time again for everyone’s favorite topic (or so it seems), EHR stimulus questions and answers. Today’s EMR stimulus question comes from Jamie who asked the following question on a previous post:

Does anyone know whether or not the government is implementing some kind of incentive benefit for non-Medicare/Medicaid users? Or are these practices totally out of luck?

The short answer (at least for now) is not really. The ARRA EHR stimulus money is provided through Medicare and Medicaid programs as “bonuses” for those who show “meaningful use” of a “certified EHR.”

With that said, there are some grants available for special situations. For example, they have a beacon communities program which are given to organizations that will supposedly take EHR software to the next level and be examples for their communities of what can be done with IT and EMR software.

I’ve heard there’s other grants that people can apply for also, but I’m not sure all of the details. I also hear that there might be some EMR stimulus money available in the latest healthcare reform bill. For example, I read somewhere recently that the healthcare reform bill includes some stimulus money for long term care which has basically been left out of stimulus money as well.

Clinics interested in EMR software should also be able to get some help from the RECs and HITRCs. At least their stated mission is to assist doctors to adopt and meaningfully use EMR software. I think the jury’s still out on how helpful these RECs will actually be. It’s a nice idea, but could go horribly wrong if not done right.

I won’t go into all the details here, but not qualifying for the EMR stimulus money might just be the best thing that’s happened to your practice. That means you won’t be distracted and you don’t need to wait. You can hone in on the other EMR benefits and start reaping those benefits without all the bureaucracy.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, 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, EXPO.health, 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 is my understanding that if you do not qualify for Stimulus incentives, that you are still required to implement & use EMR. If physicians do not adopt EMR they will be penalized by means of Medicare & Medicaid reimbursement cuts beginning 2015. That’s where they get you!

  • Gina,
    Depends on why you don’t qualify for Stimulus incentive. If you don’t qualify for stimulus incentive, because you don’t take Medicare and/or Medicaid, then penalties to those programs won’t be an issue for you and so it won’t matter. Unless of course the insurance companies hop on board, but right now that doesn’t seem very likely to me.

    Of course, if you’re taking Medicare and/or Medicaid and don’t qualify for some other reason, then it’s going to be interesting if they still try to apply the penalty to you for not showing “meaningful use” of an EMR. It would be quite the travesty if they do it, but I’m pretty sure they haven’t thought that far down the road yet. I won’t be surprised if they make some provision for those providers or if they delay the penalties for everyone.

  • Just to comment further, the meaninful use penalty is only for the Medicare side. I know most believe the penalties will start on 2015 at 1% of Medicare fees (and moving up 1% every year afer till 2018) but actually, Medicare fees could be penalized as early as 2012 for not meeting ePrescribing requirements. John makes a great point about insurance companies. My opinion is insurance company will penalize providers for not using a certified EHR – just matter of when.
    One last comment on RECs. RECs currently are required to assist what the goverment call Priority Primary Care Providers and at facilities with less than 10 providers total. RECs assistance does not involve giving money to providers but discounted services RECs pull together via group purchasing. RECs will offer some free services but the bulk of the cost has to be paid by the providers. For those not qualified to get discounted services from the RECs can still use the RECs, but these providers would not qualify for any free services from the RECs. Bottom line is that the RECs and the EHR incentive payment programs are beneficial for only select group of providers.

  • David,
    Where’s the information about penalties for not ePrescribing. I haven’t seen those anywhere.

    The RECs are going to be really interesting. I’m doing what I can to try and reach out to the RECs to get some information about them.

  • John,

    ePrescribing penalites are discussed in the 500 plus CMS Meaningful Use doc as well as others. When I get back in town, I’ll post specifics.

    As for RECs, I probably know more about them than I want to know 🙂 Right now, looks like NY and CA RECs are leading the charge. Looks like other RECs are going to replicate most of what those states are doing.

  • Hey John thanks for choosing my question to write about. I totally did not know if I was going to get an answer or not. Just googled and found you chose my question. This helps. Please keep me updated if you find out anything new about benefits for practices who don’t accept Medicaid and/or Medicare.

  • new question I hope. Is the incentive money for adoption of emr considered personal taxible income if it is used to pay off a loan to cover the EMR

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