EHR incentive payments total $2.5 billion

Total federal incentive payments for the use of electronic health record systems have soared to just over $2.5 billion, according to the CMS.   Robert Tagalicod, director of the Office of eHealth Standards and Services at the CMS, joined with staffers Robert Anthony and Jessica Kahn in delivering the news to the ONC's Health IT Policy Committee this morning.

Tagalicod said the preliminary December numbers don't tell the full story for the first year of the dual CMS programs under Medicare and Medicaid, because so-called eligible professionals still have until February to attest that they have met meaningful-use criteria during calendar year 2011 as required under the Medicare portion of the program.

Anthony said $1.38 billion has been paid thus far under Medicare; according to Kahn, $1.15 billion has been paid under Medicaid.

Anthony also posted a chart showing a sharp rise in payments in recent months.

"I love it when I can put together growth charts that have this big of a slope on them," he said. "You love that greater-than-45-degree angle going right up the chart.”

Kahn said 43 states have launched Medicaid EHR incentive payment programs so far, with Colorado and Kansas as the newest additions. Moreover, she said, 33 states currently are making payments and some of the country's most populous states—Illinois, California, New York and New Jersey—are "ramping up" their programs and will be ready to make payments soon. Both the Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs were created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

"We have had a wonderful year," said Dr. Farzad Mostashari, head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS and chairman of the Health IT Policy Committee. "Looking back on 2011, it was astounding on how much progress has been made. We hope that 2012 will be just as big if not bigger in terms of progress."

By Joseph Conn from

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