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Issue #174 - June 1, 2011
AAPC EdgeBlast

Sponsors: AMA Ingenix

EHR Incentive Payments Begin

Right on schedule, the first Medicare electronic health record (EHR) incentive payments were issued the week of May 16, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced. No mention was made as to how much money was paid or to whom.

Registration for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program opened in January; and since then 40,379 eligible professionals (EPs) have registered, according to CMS.

Ingenix says, however, "of the estimated 95,000 physicians now using an EHR system, a mere 150 stepped forward [April 18] to say they had achieved phase 1 meaningful use measures."

April 18 was opening day for EPs and eligible hospitals to attest to having met Medicare EHR Incentive Program requirements.

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CMS Unveils Three New ACO Initiatives

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced May 17 three new initiatives the agency says will give physicians, hospitals, and other health care providers new options and incentives to participate in Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).

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CMS Addresses "Meaningful Use" FAQs

To help providers get a better grip on "meaningful use" requirements for electronic health records (EHRs), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has posted frequently asked questions (FAQs) and responses on its website. Questions address a host of issues, from how to determine if your EHR system is certified, to details about the attestation process. CMS has added eight new FAQs related to EHRs since May 18.

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Check Your Mailbox for a CMS Postcard

If you get a postcard from your Medicare contractor, it's just instructions for next year's enrollment. This year, instead of the CD sent to eligible physicians, practitioners, and suppliers will receive a postcard announcing the annual open participation enrollment period, which runs from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31.

The annual open participation enrollment CD contained:

  • an announcement document;
  • Form CMS-460;
  • provider education material about the Medicare program; and
  • Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) fees.

This information is now available on contractors' websites. Offering the MPFS, education materials, and Form CMS-460 online, instead of on CD, ensures enrollees are referencing up-to-date materials, which often require updating throughout the year due to legislative changes or Medicare payment policy decisions.

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Panel Recommends Delaying Stage 2 Meaningful Use Requirements

An advisory panel has recommended delaying adoption of stage 2 meaningful use requirements to qualify for electronic health record (EHR) incentives by one year, until 2014. The delay would give more time to providers and venders to put measures into place to meet stage 2 requirements. The final rule describing stage 2 requirements has not been released, and is not expected for several months.

The delay also would give providers who have not already become meaningful users a third year to qualify for stage 1 incentives. Those providers who qualify for incentives under stage 1 meaningful use requirements in 2011, however, could lose one year's incentive.

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Data Breaches Affect Millions of Patients Since 2009

A list of breaches of unsecured protected health information (PHI) affecting 500 or more people reveals that over 250 such incidents, involving more than 10 million patients, have occurred since September 2009. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) began collecting that data in February 2010, with enactment of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) breach notification rule. The rule requires health care organizations to report breaches that affect 500 or more patients to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary within 60 days.

Insurance provider HealthNet was responsible for the largest single breach, which affected 1.9 million people. A breach affecting several New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. facilities involved 1.7 million patients. Breaches at Blue Cross/Blue Shield Tennessee and AvMed, Inc. also affected over 1 million patients, each.

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HIT Security Must Be Improved, OIG says

The results of an Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit, released May 16, reveal that basic protocols to secure patients' electronic protected health information (ePHI) have been overlooked in the effort to facilitate widespread adoption of electronic health records (EHRs). In other words, EHRs are vulnerable to "hacking," severely compromising patient privacy and inviting opportunities for identity theft and health care fraud.

The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) is responsible to guide development of a nationwide, interoperable health information technology (HIT) infrastructure. The OIG audit found that ONC has adopted application information technology (IT) security controls to protect ePHI, but so far has not mandated general IT security controls. General IT security controls are "the structure, policies, and procedures that apply to an entity's overall computer operation [to] ensure the proper operation of information systems, and [to] create a secure environment for application systems and controls."

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Coding Tips

Latest MPFS Update May Require Claims Adjustment
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Preventive Service Claims Erroneously Denied
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Meet G0249-G0250 Requirements to Prevent Delays
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CMS Releases Updated I/OCE Specifications
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Medical News

HHS Releases Training Video Designed to Prevent HAIs
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CMS Expands Access to Medicare Data
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Featured Items
EHR Incentives Begin
New ACO Initiatives
CMS' Meaningful Use FAQs
Medicare Enrollment
Stage 2 Requirements
Data Breaches
HIT Security
Coding Tips
Medical News
Coding Job Links

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