By Katie Wike, contributing writer
EHR Incentive payments reached $6.3 billion in 2012; more than twice as much as in 2011
The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released results of a study concluding healthcare providers received $6.3 billion in electronic health record (EHR) incentives for 2012. In 2011, providers were only awarded $2.3 billion.
GAO conducted the study to provide “information on certain providers, including hospitals and professionals, that were awarded Medicare EHR incentive payments for 2011 and 2012. Using data from CMS and other government and private sources, GAO determined the number and percentage of eligible providers awarded Medicare incentive payments; determined the amount of Medicare EHR incentive payments awarded to providers; and examined the characteristics of providers that were awarded Medicare EHR incentive payments.”
In addition to the awarding of over $6 billion in payments, the study found, “For 2012, the 2,291 hospitals that were awarded payments represent 48 percent of the eligible hospitals and an increase compared to 2011, when 777 hospitals, or 16 percent of those eligible, were awarded payments. Nationwide, 72 percent of hospitals were new to the program; that is, they were awarded an incentive payment for the first time. Participation varied among hospitals with certain characteristics. For example, acute care hospitals were nearly twice as likely as critical access hospitals to have been awarded an incentive payment for 2012. In addition, hospitals in rural areas were 3.1 times more likely to have been awarded an incentive payment for 2012 compared to 2011, a slightly greater increase than for hospitals overall.”
Additionally, the report found 31 percent of professionals were awarded payment in 2012 compared to 10 percent in 2011. “General practice physicians were 1.5 times more likely than specialty practice physicians to have been awarded an incentive payment for 2012. In addition, professionals with the lowest total amount of Medicare Part B charges were 3.3 times more likely to have been awarded an incentive payment for 2012 compared to 2011, which was a slightly greater increase than for professionals overall.”
Nextgov writes of the study, “GAO said the Congressional Budget Office estimated total spending for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR programs to be $30 billion from 2011 through 2019.”