Small Meaningful Use Penalties for Small Practices

Michelle has posted an interesting CMS analysis of the price of EHR penalties for physicians:

CMS reports that the majority of physicians who will be penalized this year for not having met MU requirements will lose less than $1,000 of their Medicare reimbursement; 34% of the penalties will be $250 or less, while 31% will exceed $2,000.

The adjustments will impact approximately 257,000 eligible providers. While no one likes losing money, the CMS penalty “stick” is pretty small compared to the overall cost of implementing an EHR.

Unfortunately her link to the CMS report seemed to be the wrong link. I’d love to dig into the 31% of doctors who will exceed $2000 in penalties. $2000 still isn’t very compelling to most doctors I know, but if it scales from there we could see how many doctors are really going to suffer from the EHR penalties.

What’s also not clear to me is if this includes the PQRS penalties as well. All of the penalties start to add up. I also heard one doctor talk about the feared 22% Medicare cut that’s been delayed for a decade or so (I lose track of the number of years). I’ll be surprised if those cuts aren’t delayed again, but it’s interesting that many doctors fear these cuts even if they’re likely to be delayed. Perception is still very important.

Back to the meaningful use penalties, $1000 penalty is not something most doctors will bat an eye at. Even those who have an EHR are opting out of meaningful use stage 2. The math doesn’t work out for small practices. $1000 of penalties certainly won’t balance the equation either. I expect a very small number of small practices to do meaningful use stage 2. Hospitals on the other hand are a different story.

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John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, 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.


  • 2 cuts Sequestration already in place +
    2.5% cuts EHR + (may be off a bit)
    2% cuts PQRS + (may be off a bit)+
    yearly reimbursement freezes or cuts +
    a strong possibility of hipaa security breaches with the providers being forced to use poor technology (which is what is available at a reasonable price) under EHR regulations+
    massive losses in ICD 10 implementation where insurance companies like UHC is asking providers to take personal loans so that the patients are taken care of…even if the physician may lose his home and retirement.

    It reminds me of hunger games where most will die and they are FORCED to play the CMS game of ….MAY THE ODDS BE ALWAYS IN YOUR FAVOR.
    When will this kind of bashing….illegal stop.

  • Michelle,
    That link didn’t work either [Fixed], but it sounds like it doesn’t matter. The data was really interesting. No doubt very few doctors will be influenced by penalties so small.

    Although, like FatiguedbyPoorTechnology says, it’s one more smack to the back of doctors. The happiest doctors I know today have avoided Medicare and government programs completely. Unfortunately, that’s not possible in many cases.

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