Friday, May 22, 2009

Frances Dare follows up on several questions

Question: Are physicians required to treat a minimum number of Medicare patients in order to be eligible for the Medicare EHR incentive payments?

Answer: No. There is, however, a cap on the total EHR incentive available to physicians. The cap is based on 75% of the allowable Medicare charges for the physician, not to exceed the $44,000 maximum available for EHR incentive total payments detailed in the legislation ($48,000 for physicians who practice in a professional shortage area). So, physicians with lower Medicare volumes may be eligible for a smaller amount. For example, in 2011 the first payment to those meaningfully using a qualified, certified EHR is $18,000. If 75% of a physician’s allowable Medicare charges are less than $18,000 the physician can only receive an amount equal to 75% of allowable Medicare charges for EHR adoption.

Question: Is there a cap on the amount of EHR incentive available through the Medicaid EHR incentives?

Answer: Yes. The amount of EHR incentives available to providers will be based on 85% of the “net average allowable costs” to first implement a system and then operate and maintain an EHR. The incentives are per provider, and not on a per-practice basis. That said, the bill caps the net average allowable first year cost to implement a system at no more than $25,000. For the subsequent four years, the legislation caps the net average allowable costs for operations and maintenance at $10,000. So, the maximum amount a physician or other eligible provider can receive over a five year period is $55,250. The actual EHR incentives paid may be less, based upon studies conducted by the Secretary of HHS to determine net average allowable costs of an EHR.

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