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Medicare EHR attestation deadline set for Feb. 29

January 18, 2012

Health care practitioners who qualify for bonuses under the Medicare Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Program during 2011 must be registered for the program and attest compliance with the program’s EHR utilization standards by Feb. 29, 2012, in order to receive payment, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Under the Medicare EHR Incentive Program, health care practitioners can earn up to a total of $44,000 ($48,400 in federally designated health professional shortage areas) over the six-year life of the program if they install EHR systems that are certified for use under the program and achieve compliance with the program’s EHR utilization criteria, known as “meaningful use” standards.

Practitioners must register for the program online using the CMS’ Medicare EHR Incentive Program Registration and Attestation System Web page (https://ehrincentives.cms.gov).

During a practitioner’s first year in the incentive program, compliance with the meaningful use standards must be maintained over a 90-day period.

The last Medicare EHR program reporting period for 2011 will end on New Year’s Eve.

Health care practitioners who wish to receive incentive payments for 2011 will have until Feb. 29 to report compliance, using the registration and attestation system Web page.

Practitioners will not be eligible for 2011 bonuses if they fail to register for the program or attest compliance by the last day of February, CMS officials emphasized.

While many practitioners register for the incentive program as soon as they obtained certified EHRs systems, some may not have enrolled in the program immediately after installing their EHRs and should make sure they have properly registered before attempting to attest compliance with the program standards, the AOA Advocacy Group advised.

To qualify for incentives during calendar year 2011, practitioners must achieve compliance with the meaningful use standards over a 90-day reporting period that ends no later than Dec. 31.

While practitioners will have until Feb. 29 to attest compliance achieved during 2011, the 90-day reporting period must end by the last day of the calendar year, the AOA Advocacy Group emphasized.

The CMS encourages providers to register for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program as soon as possible to avoid payment delays.

Health care practitioners can register for the incentive program before they have a certified EHR and can also register if they do not have an enrollment record in Medicare’s Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System (PECOS), the CMS emphasized.

While hospitals hoping to earn incentives this year must have registered for the program and attested compliance by the end of November, health care practitioners will have an additional three months to take action necessary to receive payments.

The CMS also offers a Medicaid EHR Incentive Program; however, optometrists can qualify for the Medicaid program only in Kentucky and Illinois.

The Feb. 29 registration and attestation deadline will also apply to the Medicaid program.

The CMS offers a number of resources to help providers successfully register for the EHR Incentive Program:

Additional information Medicare EHR Incentive program can be found on the CMS EHR Incentive Programs Web site (www.cms.gov/EHRIncentivePrograms) and the AOA Web site EHR page (www.aoa.org/ehr).

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