CMS Takes Next Step on Pilot for Electronic Medical Records
On Tuesday, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt announced the 12 cities and states that have been chosen to participate in a $150 million Medicare pilot program to encourage physicians to use electronic health records, CQ Today reports.
The five-year program will help nearly 1,200 small practices in the 12 regions switch from paper to digital record keeping. Four of the communities will begin implementing the program in the next several months, and the other regions will begin next year.
In the first year of the program, participating physicians will receive increased Medicare payments for showing that they have implemented EHR systems.
In the second year, payments will be increased for physicians who use EHR systems to report on their quality of care.
In the final three years of the program, physicians will receive payment increases if they can show that they used EHRs to meet quality-of-care standards.
Leavitt said the program is expected to be "budget-neutral" because the use of EHRs will produce "sufficient savings" to offset the higher payments (Wayne, CQ Today, 6/10). Leavitt said, "The use of electronic health records, and of health information technology as a whole, has the ability to transform the way health care is delivered in our nation" (Kohn, Baltimore Sun, 6/11).
The pilot program is part of a broader plan by HHS as part of an executive order issued by President Bush in 2004, which included a goal of providing most U.S. residents access to EHRs by 2014 (CQ Today, 6/10).
The 12 participating regions are:
- Jacksonville, Fla.;
- Madison, Wis.;
- South Dakota;
- Virginia; and
- Washington, D.C.
Physicians in four of the jurisdictions this fall can begin enrolling in the program, while physicians in the other eight communities will join the program in 2009 (Baltimore Sun, 6/11).
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