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Not all regions receive Medicaid EHR incentives equally, notes GAO

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Regional disparities exist in participation by eligible caregivers in Medicaid incentive payments for the adoption of electronic health records, says a Dec. 13 GAO report (.pdf).

A third of eligible healthcare professionals and 39 percent of eligible hospitals received payments in fiscal 2011 through the Medicaid EHR incentive program, the GAO says, for totals of $1.7 billion and  $967 million, respectively.

"Concerns have been raised that various factors, such as location in urban or rural areas or the size of hospitals and professional practices, may affect the extent to which different providers will respond to the incentives provided by the HITECH Act," the GAO report says, referring to the Health IT for Economic and Clinical Health Act, the 2009 law that established EHR adoption incentive payments.

Among hospitals awarded a Medicaid EHR incentive payment in 2011, the GAO found that the largest proportion (46 percent) were located in the South and the smallest proportion (15 percent) were located in the Northeast.

Three-fifths (62 percent) were located in urban areas; four-fifths (80 percent) were acute care hospitals; more than half (57 percent) were nonprofit hospitals; and more than half (57 percent) were not members of a chain.

Among the professionals who received a Medicaid EHR incentive payment in 2011, the GAO found that the largest proportion (37 percent) were located in the South and the smallest proportion (20 percent) were located in the Midwest; four-fifths (83 percent) were located in urban areas; and nearly three-quarters were physicians—either general practice physicians (23 percent) or specialty practice physicians (51 percent)—and the lowest proportion (1 percent) were physician assistants.

For more:
-download the GAO report, 13-146R (.pdf)

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