What is “Meaningful Use”?

EHRIncentiveLogoweb2On February 13th, 2009 the U.S. Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (also known as the “Stimulus Bill”), allocating hundreds of billions of dollars of federal funding to lift our economy. A central component of the bill is over $30 billion in rewards for providers to implement Electronic Health Records into their practices and use them to improve the health of their patients.
How do these rewards work? Who is eligible?
The stimulus bill provides additional payments through Medicare and Medi-Cal to providers who demonstrate Meaningful Use of EHR systems.

  • Medicare: Physicians are eligible for payments equal to 75 percent of what they bill to Medicare, up to $44,000 over five years, with payments starting in 2011
  • Medicaid: Office-based providers whose patient visits include at least 30 percent Medicaid (either managed care or fee-for-service) are eligible for up to $63,750
  • Providers may receive either Medicare or Medicaid Meaningful EHR Use payments, but not both

On the other hand, the Act creates Medicare penalties. By 2015, physicians who have not achieved Meaningful EHR use will see their Medicare fee schedule amount reduced by 1% in 2015, by 2% in 2016, by 3% for 2017 and by between 3-5% in subsequent years.
Beginning in 2015, providers not satisfying the Meaningful Use Criteria will have their Medicare fee schedule amount reduced by 1% in 2015, 2% in 2016, 3% in 2017, and between 3 to 5% in subsequent years.

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