Meaningful Use Incentive Payments Reach Nearly $18 Billion, CMS Says

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By Alex Ruoff  

Jan. 14 --The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has issued nearly $18 billion in Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments through its meaningful use program, a CMS official said Jan. 14.

As of November 2013, the CMS had paid 334,081 hospitals and health-care providers more than $17.77 billion in incentive payments to adopt electronic health record systems, Robert Anthony, an eHealth specialist for the CMS, said at a meeting of the Health IT Policy Committee.

Although registration with the meaningful use program slowed slightly in November and December, Anthony said, it remains a widely popular program.

More than 93 percent of all hospitals eligible to receive an incentive payment through the meaningful use program had registered for a payment by November. More than 80 percent of all health-care providers eligible to receive an incentive payment through the meaningful use program had registered for payment by November, he said.

Registration Slowing

Provider registration for the Medicare meaningful use program hit a four-month low in November, according to CMS data. Just 3,081 health-care providers and 30 hospitals registered in November to participate in the Medicare program, the lowest since July.

Registration for the Medicaid meaningful use program by health-care providers hit a four-month low in November, according to the CMS. Just 2,175 health-care providers registered in November to participate in the Medicaid meaningful use program, the lowest since August.

Registration is expected to have picked up only slightly in December, Anthony said. According to draft estimates by the CMS, 3,500 health-care providers and 70 hospitals registered in December to participate in the Medicare meaningful use program and 3,500 health-care providers registered to participate in the Medicaid meaningful use program.

Some health-care industry observers have predicted a drop-off in participation for the meaningful use program in 2014 as providers and hospitals struggle to meet the requirements of Stage 2 of the meaningful use program (see previous article).

CMS Response

Anthony said the meaningful use program saw similar fluctuations in 2011 and 2012. He said January and February have historically been the busiest months for program enrollments, while November and December are considered a slow period.

“EPs [eligible providers] tend to wait until January, so we expect that as we move into January and February those numbers will pick up a little bit,” Anthony said.

The lowest month for registration with the meaningful use program in 2013 was March, when just 1,269 health-care providers and 34 hospitals registered for the Medicare program, according to the CMS. January 2013 had the highest enrollment numbers, as 12,304 providers and 33 hospitals registered to participate in the Medicare program.

July was the slowest month in 2013 for the Medicaid incentive program, according to the CMS. Fewer than 1,400 health-care providers registered for the Medicaid incentive program in July.

The CMS has not posted month-to-month registration figures for 2011 and 2012.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Ruoff in Washington at aruoff@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kendra Casey Plank at kcasey@bna.com


The CMS data is at http://tinyurl.com/pzsehfv.