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Meaningful Use Incentive Payouts Top $3B

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, February 17, 2012

Doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers have so far received $3.12 billion in incentive payments for adopting meaningful use measures for health information technology, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Friday.

More than 2,000 hospitals and 41,000 doctors have received payments, and Sebelius pointed to a survey by the American Hospital Association indicating that the percent of hospitals adopting electronic health record technology "has more than doubled" from 16% to 35% between 2009 and 2011.  A large portion of that occurred within the last few months.

In January alone, the federal government paid out $519 million to eligible providers.  Electronic health record incentive payments could total as much as $44,000 under the Medicare Electronic Health Record Incentive Program, and $63,750 under the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.

The flurry of recent activity is likely due to the fact that doctors and hospitals have deadlines. Doctors must register for attestation for meaningful use under Stage 1 by February 29, 2012 to receive their incentive payment for the first year, said Jeff Smith, assistant director of advocacy for CHIME, College of Healthcare Information Management Executives. For hospitals the deadline was November 30, 2011.

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