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Rural health centers seek to participate in EHR incentive programs

IHealthbeat, July 7, 2011

A group of medical clinics in Illinois is lobbying Congress to adjust the meaningful use program so rural health centers can receive incentive payments for meaningfully using electronic health records, the Springfield State Journal-Register reports.  Under the HITECH Act in the 2009 economic stimulus package, healthcare providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments. Hospitals, physicians, dentists and certain other healthcare providers are eligible for the program, but federally qualified health centers and rural health centers are among the healthcare providers that are ineligible. Rich Brennan -- executive director of the Home Care Technology Association of America -- said staffers from the House Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means committees have met with ineligible healthcare providers and explained that the meaningful use program aims to achieve maximum effect with the amount of funding available, rather than disburse the funding to a greater number of health care providers.