There is a great deal of skepticism about when EHR incentives will be paid and how providers will actually get their money. This is not surprising, given the negative early experiences with the PQRI program and the fact that ePrescribing providers are having to wait until September or October to receive their bonuses for the prior year for the MIPPA incentive program.
The good news is that CMS is promising to distribute the first EHR incentives in May, following successful attestations of meaningful use for the initial 90-day reporting period.
So how will this happen? A common misconception is that the first year incentives are automatically $18,000. According to the legislation, the incentives are earned at a rate of 75% of Medicare Part B FFS Allowable Charges up to the maximum, (i.e., $18,000 for year 1). What this means is that once a provider successfully attests to meeting meaningful use, CMS will check to see if he/she has generated sufficient Medicare revenue to warrant the $18,000 incentive—i.e., $24,000 in charges. If so, CMS will issue the check. If not, CMS will wait until the provider reaches $24,000 and then release the incentive payment. For the few providers with very small Medicare populations, CMS will wait until February 2012 to receive all of the provider’s claims for 2011, and then send an incentive in the amount of 75% of his/her 2011 Medicare charges.
Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EMR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.