MU Incentive Payments May Begin May 2011

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) says it will begin making “meaningful use” incentive payments to eligible  providers and facilities as early as May 2011.

Karen Trudel, deputy director for CMS’ Office of E-Health Standards & Services, told Healthcare IT News that registration will open in January of next year. However, to begin receiving payments, health care providers and facilities must verify that they have demonstrated meaning full use of certified electronic health records for 90 days, she said.

To fit in 90 days of meaningful use means, “that no one will be able to attest before April,” she said. “The first payments will go out in the middle of May,” she said at a July 28 meeting of the federal advisory Health IT Standards Committee.

Now that CMS has released its final rule on meaningful use, the agency is readying systems and processes that will trigger the payments. “We’re now engineering back into the system all the changes that occurred in the final rule,” she said.

Getting it right is important because CMS will pay out billions of dollars in incentives called for in the HITECH Act over the next several years, said Trudel, who indicated the pressure is on. “We are now working toward making all of this a reality and we have only about six months to do it,” she said.

The agency will roll out a registration service in January so physicians and hospitals can sign up for the program. CMS must also test its systems to make sure they can handle the interactions transmitted through registration, attestation and payment.

Eligible hospitals and Medicare physicians must have a national provider identifier (NPI) and be enrolled in the CMS Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System (PECOS) to participate in the EHR incentive program. Most providers also need to have an active user account in the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES).


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