Leavitt Touts Medicare Pilot Program To Increase EHR Use
On Thursday, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt spoke at a meeting in Virginia as part of a national tour to encourage communities to participate in a five-year Medicare pilot program that uses electronic health records, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.
During the meeting, held at the Virginia state Capitol, Leavitt said that, although many hospital systems and large medical practices have begun to use EHRs, smaller practices cannot afford and do not believe they need the technology. He said, "Most of them know this is going to happen, but they have been waiting for the systems to develop ... to lower in prices and essentially to know they had to do it."
Under the pilot program, Medicare "will pay them more on their Medicare billings" and, in the second year, "will pay them more if they will report the quality measures that we all agreed will be standard quality measures," Leavitt said.
CMS will select 12 communities to participate in the pilot program, and 100 small- to medium-sized medical practices will participate in each of the communities, according to Leavitt. CMS will select four communities in the pilot program this year and will select the other eight next year, he said.
Leavitt added that the pilot program will result in a total of about $150 million in extra Medicare reimbursements for medical practices that participate (Smith, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/8).