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Medicare EHR payments rise in 2012

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Nearly half of U.S. hospitals eligible for an incentive payment through the Medicare electronic health record program received one in fiscal 2012.

The 2,291 hospitals that received a total of $3.5 billion in Medicare EHR incentive payments was up from 777 hospitals and $1.3 billion in fiscal 2011.

Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, hospitals and certain healthcare professionals can receive federal subsidies if they adopt EHRs and demonstrate meaningful use of the technology. The HITECH Act was enacted as part of the 2009 stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Hospitals can generally participate in both the Medicare EHR and Medicaid EHR incentive programs. The Government Accountability Office published figures on the Medicare program in a report dated Oct. 24, based on data collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Urban hospitals were more likely than rural hospitals to receive incentive payments. Of the four major regions of the United States, the Northeast's hospitals were most likely to receive incentive payments.

In 2012, 183,712 healthcare professionals, such as physicians and dentists, received a total of $2.8 billion in Medicare EHR incentive payments. The recipients represented 31 percent of eligible healthcare professionals. In 2011, only about 10 percent of those eligible received payments.

The disparity between the percent of urban and rural professionals receiving payments in 2012 was considerably smaller than it was for urban and rural hospitals.

Professionals who were more than 30 years removed from their medical degree were less likely than other professionals to receive incentive payments in 2012.

For more:
- download the report, GAO-14-21R (.pdf)

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