The Obama administration confirmed that starting today (Dec. 19) over quarter of a million doctors and health care professionals will be notified that they face shrinking payments from Medicare and Medicaid due to insufficient usage of health records in their practices.
Both the health insurance program for the elderly (Medicare) and the insurance program for the poor (Medicaid) are under the administration of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Their common goal is to provide eligible U.S patients with the medical and health-related services the need.
A spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services stated that the CMS was working with the health care professionals in order to improve the quality of their services through the use of electronic health records. She added that since 2011 bonuses have been offered to more than 400,000 medical professionals with the help of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. Nevertheless, starting Dec. 19 those who do not comply with the program will be notified by the CMS and will be subjected to the payment reduction imposed by law.
This decision is not a surprising one though. In 2009, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act became a law. This was part of the legislation called American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. This law provides with $20 billion, encouraging health care professionals by means of bonuses to use electronic medical records at a certain standard.
It is thus understandable why the practitioners who do not comply with these standards are being penalized. Some hospitals and practitioners will be paid 1% less in reimbursement in 2015 from Medicare and Medicaid due to poor compliance with the “Meaningful Use” standards of EMR (Electronic Medical Records).
As a result, a lot of medical groups are not happy with the outcome. The repercussions will be greater for the small practices.
American Medical Association president Dr. Steven Stack described the implemented standards for EMR usage as a “strict set of one-size-fits-all requirements” and that it is “failing physicians and their patients”. He added:
“The overlapping and often conflicting patchwork of laws and regulations must be fixed and aligned to ensure physicians are able to move to innovative payment and delivery models that could improve the quality of care.”
On the other hand, there are hospitals and doctors who will be handed extra funds, as a reward for their improved services. However, there will be a drop in the 2015 federal payment sums, which will decrease to the same levels set in 2012.
Image Source: Dylan Ratigan