HHS Publishes Program Plan for ARRA Incentives

The Department of Health and Human Services released its program plan for enacting the health IT incentives provisions called for in ARRA. By the end of 2009, HHS will have drafted necessary program policies and published them for public comment. These policies will include a definition of “meaningful use.”

HHS will also use this year to plan necessary support for the program, including a national outreach program.

In 2010 HHS plans to conduct outreach to eligible professionals, develop the final program rules, and create systems to monitor and evaluate the payments.

Medicare incentive payments to hospitals will begin no sooner than October 2010; payments to eligible professionals will begin no sooner than January 2011. Medicaid incentives to professionals and hospitals both will also begin no sooner than January 2011.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides $17 billion in Medicare bonus payments for eligible individuals and hospitals that adopt certified electronic health record systems. The Medicare payments run until 2016. The Medicaid payments extend until 2021.

In 2015 a series of Medicare payment reductions will begin for eligible professionals and hospitals that are not meaningful EHR users.

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