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First meaningful use checks arrive this week

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | May 19, 2011
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it would disburse the first electronic health record adoption incentive payments this week, as was predicted by the agency as long ago as last July.

However, the agency said it couldn't say how many providers yet qualified for the payments, which are payable under the HITECH Act.

"No specific numbers available yet. We'll have more information in the days ahead," Joseph Kuchler, a CMS spokesman, told DOTmed News by e-mail.

The attestation period, where providers could show they logged at least 90 days of meaningful use, began April 18. At least 150 providers successfully attested as soon as the period began, according to reports.

Previously, CMS said they would cut checks about four to eight weeks after a doctor successfully attested to achieving meaningful use, putting the first pay period in mid-May.

The maximum first-year payment to eligible professionals is $18,000. However, CMS said payments will be held until the provider has reached the $24,000 threshold.

Payments to eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals start at $2 million, the agency said.

CMS will pay a maximum of $44,000 to eligible physicians over the next five years. However, to receive the full amount, doctors have to start participating by next year.

Separately, CMS said it has already paid out more than $83 million in Medicaid meaningful use incentives, which are handled on a state-by-state basis, since the program began in January.

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