In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act required all public and private medical providers to implement and show “meaningful use” of electronic medical records (EMR) by 2014. The Act originally provided $19.2 billion in incentives for providers that could attest “meaningful use” of electronic medical records. However, the Act also imposed a penalty on non-compliant providers starting in 2015. The penalty allowed for a 1% reduction in Medicare reimbursement to these providers (as of now, Medicaid reimbursements are not subject to this penalty).
In order to show meaningful use for Medicare in 2014, providers had to meet the criteria established by CMS stage 1. Stage 1 required providers to implement an EMR system, provide clinical data only, and provide patients with electronic medical records. For Medicaid, non-compliant providers have until 2021 to comply with Stage 1.
To establish meaningful use for Medicare in 2015 through the end of 2017, providers have to meet the criteria established by CMS stage 2. Providers must show quality improvement, the medical information is displayed in a structured format, care coordination is easier through the use of EMRs, and patient records are protected by appropriate security measures.
In order to show meaningful use for Medicare in 2018 and beyond, providers will have to meet the criteria established by CMS stage 3. Providers must prove that the use of EMRs is reducing costs, improving access to healthcare, and improving the quality of healthcare. Another important objective providers must meet is interoperability with other EMR programs.
The total amount of incentives the federal government has paid to providers since the program’s implementation in 2011 is over $35 billion. In Arkansas, the federal government has paid providers over $279 million in Medicare incentives, and over $108 million in Medicaid incentives. By March of 2017, over 519,000 healthcare providers had received incentive payments.
Implementation of EMRs allow patients easier access to their medical records. EMRs also make patients’ medical records easier to understand and read. Eventually, patients should be able to access their medical records online through their healthcare provider’s website. Of course, the very nature of EMRs may pose a heightened security risk for confidential information. And the penalty and incentive system can potentially be difficult to navigate.
The attorneys at Keith, Miller, Butler, Schneider & Pawlik, PLLC, are prepared to assist both businesses and individuals with EMR compliance, in addition to other regulatory needs. Contact us today to see how our experienced team can help.