EHR incentive payouts exceed $12 billion

As of the end of February 2013, an estimated $12.3 billion has been paid to 219,000 physicians and hospitals through the EHR Incentive Programs administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) since the programs' inception.

CMS will post final figures for February later this month as it captures more complete data, said Robert Anthony, a specialist in the agency's Office of eHealth Standards and Services, during a March 14 Health IT Policy Committee meeting, which was broadcast live.

In February, 27,500 Medicare physicians received $425 million; 5,500 Medicaid clinicians and eligible professionals received $100 million; and 90 hospitals in either program received $200 million, for a total of $725 million to 33,090 providers, according to CMS.

“February was a big month, as we expected. A lot of Medicare eligible professionals came in and attested in the final month to be counted in the 2012 program,” Anthony said.

“We expect that February number will continue to grow as we process them through the month. We’re already seeing some providers come in for 2013,” he added.

The incentive program has been operating long enough now that some providers are second-time participants, so CMS lists only unique providers paid.

Since the program’s inception through February, CMS has paid 140,000 Medicare physicians, 75,500 Medicaid clinicians and 3,757 hospitals, according to latest estimates.

The number of eligible providers registered for the EHR incentive program was just shy of 85 percent of hospitals, and 73.2 percent of hospitals have been paid as of January.

“For eligible professions, two-thirds are registered and almost 40 percent have been paid under Medicare, Medicaid or Medicare Advantage,” Anthony said.

CMS also found that the performance level was comparable between providers attesting for the first time in 2011 or 2012 on their core and menu objective measures.

“We’re seeing consistently high performance. If anything, we see a slight increase as we move to a full year, but most is not statistically significant,” Anthony said.

However, there were indications that as providers move into a second year of meaningful use, “the workflow becomes more routine, and they are performing at a slightly higher level than when they began,” he said.