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HITECH Act of 2009

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HI-TECH Act for Physicians

What is the HITECH Act?

On February 17, 2009 a $787 Billion, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 aka “the Stimulus Bill,” was signed into law by the federal government. Included in this law is $19.2 Billion which is intended to be used to increase the use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) by physicians and hospitals; this portion of the bill is called, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH Act. The government firmly believes in the benefits of using electronic health records and is ready to invest federal resources to proliferate its use. Title XIII in Division A, pages 112 through 165 and Title IV in Division B, pages 353 through 398, cover the HITECH portion of this economic recovery act.

Why did the government pass this law? Why is it important?

There has been extensive research done to show that utilizing an EHR would serve to improve patient care, increase patient safety and simplify compliance in the US healthcare system. Additionally, it would help cut costs in the long term, as it would minimize errors, increase productivity and administrative efficiency.

What does the HITECH Act mean to physicians and hospitals? What incentives are available to me?

As described in the most recent published news, the intended use of the $19 Billion will be for incentive payments, grants and loans.

$17 Billion will be used for incentive payments to physicians and hospitals that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs. These incentives will be issued to current users and new adopters of certified EMR systems, who use the system in a meaningful way. The certification process and standardization criteria have NOT yet been determined, and will be decided upon by the end of 2009. The government has NOT yet made any reference to partnerships with any existing EMR certification organizations.

Medicare - Physicians seeing Medicare patients can receive up to $44K over the course of 5 years.

How to read this table: The first row represents the year you adopt an EMR system. The first column represents how much the payout will be each year. For example, if you are a current user, your payout for 2012 will be $12K. If you adopt an EMR system in 2013, your payout will be $15K in 2013, $12k in 2014, and $8K in 2015.

 Payout Current2011
2012
2013
2014
 2011 $18,000$18,000
-
-
 -
 2012 $12,000$12,000$18,000- -
 2013 $8,000$8,000
$12.000
$15,000 -
 2014 $4,000$4,000$8,000
$12,000$15,000
 2015 $2,000$2,000 $4,000
$8,000
$12,000
 2016 - -$2,000$4,000$8,000
 Total$44,000 $44,000
$44,000
$39,000
$35,000

Medicaid - Physicians whose caseloads include at least 30% Medicaid patients are eligible to receive up to $64K over the course of 5 years, the exact payments have not yet been determined. Physicians cannot obtain incentives from both Medicaid and Medicare, but hospitals can.

What happens if I don’t adopt an EMR system?

After 2015, further financial incentives will not be available and penalties will kick in. There will be a 1% reduction in Medicare fees per year, up to 3% by 2017.

Where do I begin? How do I start thinking about this process to ensure that I have thought everything through?

It is obvious from the explanation of the incentive plan that the sooner you adopt an EMR system, the more incentive funds that will be available to you. It is not an easy undertaking and will require quite a bit of analysis, preparation and research to begin the process.


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Who Qualifies for the EHR / EMR Healthcare Stimulus?

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The HITECH Act specifies that physicians can qualify for $44,000 or more in economic stimulus incentives for adopting an EHR. What exactly does this mean and how can your practice qualify? Here are just a few answers concerning HITECH Stimulus incentives:

Are HITECH incentives per physician or per office?

HITECH incentives are paid on a per provider basis. As such, a practice with two physicians could qualify for $88,000 in Medicare incentives. A practice with two physicians and a nurse practitioner could qualify for as much as $132,000.

What types of healthcare providers qualify for HITECH incentives?

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) lists the following types of providers as qualifying for incentives:

Hospitals
Skilled Nursing facilities
Nursing facilities
Home health entities
Long term care facilities
Health care clincs
Community Mental Health centers
Renal dialysis facilities
Blood centers
Ambulatory surgical centers
Emergency medical service providers
Federall qualified health centers (FQHC)
Group practices
Pharmacists
Laboratories
Physicians (see below)
Practitioners (see below)
Indian Health Service providers
Rural health clinics
Therapists

 

What types of physicians qualify for incentives?

The following types of practices can all qualify for $44,000 or more in HITECH stimulus incentives, according to the definitions of the Social Security Act, section 1861(r):

Doctor of Medicine or Osteopathy – M.D. or D.O.
Doctor of Dental Surgery or Medicine – D.D.S or D.D.M
Doctor of Podiatric Medicine – D.P.M.
Doctor of Optometry – O.D.
Chiropractor – D.C.

What types of medical practitioners are included in HITECH?

In addition to the list above, ARRA references “providers as defined in the Social Security Act, section 1842” as qualifying for HITECH incentives. This includes:

A physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or clinical nurse specialist
A certified registered nurse anesthetist
A certified nurse-midwife
A clinical social worker
A clinical psychologist
A registered dietitian or nutrition professional

Which geographic areas qualify for HITECH incentives?

ARRA specifies the following regions and territories as qualifying for HITECH incentives:

All 50 US states
The District of Columbia
Puerto Rico
The Virgin Islands
Guam
American Samoa
The Northern Mariana Islands

What types of medical practices do not qualify for HITECH incentives?

The following types of practices do not qualify for incentives based on our current understanding of the program:

Free clinics that don’t bill Medicare or Medicaid
Physical therapists
Hospital-based physicians such as pathologists, anesthesiologists or emergency physicians
Acupuncturists and other holistic providers
Any practice not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid payments

 

 

 

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