by Dava Stewart
Most of the time, you see and hear references to the Electronic Health Records Incentive Program, as if it is one, single program. However, there are actually two, similar programs: one for Medicare and one for Medicaid.
If you choose to participate — and this is the last year you can make that choice — you must pick one. The biggest difference is that the Medicare program is run by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Medicaid program is run by the Medicaid offices in individual states. Both programs require Eligible Professionals (EPs) to attest to meaningful use of a certified EHR system in order to receive an incentive payment.
Attesting to meaningful use is, at the most basic level, showing that your practice is using the EHR system to improve patient outcomes. Of course there are forms to fill out and proper procedure to learn and follow, but all of that is so you can demonstrate that your patients have benefited from your investment in an EHR. The actual, official attestation is done through the CMS system for the Medicare program.
If you choose to participate in the Medicaid program, during the first year you can receive an incentive payment for “adopting, implementing, or upgrading, certified EHR technology,” according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. In the following years, meaningful use must be shown in order to receive payment. With the Medicare program, meaningful use must be shown each year.
Both programs have three stages, with each mandating an increase of requirements in the next stage. The 2014 stage one definition includes:
- 13 required core objectives
- 5 menu objectives from a list of 9
- Total of 18 objectives
Participants are required to attest to stage one meaningful use for three consecutive years before moving on to stage two.Â In order to help EPs prepare for attestation, which is done through the CMS EHR Incentive Program system, the CMS provides a worksheet for logging meaningful use measures.
For EPs who began the program at the earliest possible stage, 2014 will be the first year of demonstrating stage two meaningful use, which requires the following:
- 17 required core objectives
- 3 menu objectives from a list of 6
- Total of 20 objectives