Federal Incentive Payments For EHRs To Doctors And Hospitals Edge $24 Billion

Bob Brewin | Nextgov.com | June 12, 2014

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services paid out the equivalent of the gross national product of Costa Rica -- $23.7 billion -- to hospitals and medical professionals from 2011 through April 2014 to adopt electronic health records.

Despite this whopping federal investment in EHRs, the JASON advisory group, which usually works on national security matters, blasted the lack of interoperability of EHRs as a serious impediment to the exchange of health data between doctors, patients and hospitals in a report discussed Tuesday at the monthly Health Information Technology Policy meeting run by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

The 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health – or HITECH – provided funds to spur hospitals and doctors to use certified EHR technology, with initial payments in 2011. The underlying supposition is that EHRs have the potential to improve the quality of patient care and reduce health care costs. Clinicians -- including doctors, osteopaths, nurse practitioners, chiropractors and more -- are eligible to receive $44,000 over five years under the Medicare EHR incentive program, and up to $63,750 over six years under Medicaid, with a base payment of $2 million to hospitals...