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ODs’ Medicare EHR incentives top $145 million

August 14, 2013

Optometrists earned some $145,030,796 in payment bonuses through the Medicare Electronic Health (EHR) Incentive program, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

More than 12,000 optometrists – about one-third of all practicing optometrists in the nation – have now installed EHR systems in their offices and are participating in the Medicare EHR incentive program, according to CMS data released last month.

Optometrists are specifically included as eligible health care providers under the incentive program as the result of a concerted lobbying effort by the AOA Advocacy Group. The CMS originally intended to exclude optometrists from the program.

To date, fully two-thirds of the optometrists participating in the Medicare EHR program –8,204 practitioners – have successfully earned bonuses through the program.

Under the Medicare EHR Incentive Program, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2011, health care practitioners who entered the program during 2011 or 2012 can earn up to a total of $44,000 ($48,400 in federally designated Health Professional Shortage Areas [HPSA]) over the six-year life of the program if they install EHR systems certified for use under the program and achieve compliance with the program’s EHR utilization criteria, known as “meaningful use” standards. Practitioners who enter the program during 2013 can qualify for up to a total of $39,000 ($42,900 in HPSAs).

Data released by the CMS last month does not include payments made to optometrists under the separate Medicaid EHR Program. Optometrists can now qualify for Medicaid EHR incentive programs in at least 10 states.

For additional information on the Medicare EHR Incentive Program, including the latest CMS report on incentive distributions, visit www.aoa.org/ehr. More information on EHR utilization in optometric practice is available at www.excelod.com/ehr.

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