September 01, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Electronic Health Records Health Information Technology Practice Management
The Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program provides funding to Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) providers and hospitals to adopt, implement, upgrade and make meaningful use of certified EHR technology. Eligible providers should be aware that 2016 is the last year that eligible providers can sign up for the program.
Since the program began in 2011, more than 20,000 Medi-Cal professionals have qualified, receiving more than $500 million in incentive payments.
Professionals can individually receive up to $63,750 in incentive payments over six years, with the largest payment of $21,250 in the first year for signing a contract or other binding agreement to acquire certified EHR technology. The EHR does not have to be installed in the first year to receive this payment, and the payment does not have to be returned if the professional does not subsequently demonstrate meaningful use of the EHR. Professionals who subsequently demonstrate meaningful use of the EHR receive $8,500 yearly for up to five years.
The program is open to physicians, dentists, optometrists, nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and physician assistants (who work in Federally Qualified Health Centers or Rural Health Clinics) who can demonstrate that 30 percent or more of their or their group’s encounters or panel patients during a 90-day period in the previous calendar year can be attributed to Medi-Cal patients. Pediatricians, however, can qualify with a 20 percent Medi-Cal patient volume. (Pediatricians with 20 to 29 percent Medi-Cal patient volume will only qualify for two-thirds of the total incentive.) Many professionals do not need to supply encounter or patient information because the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) is able to “prequalify” them using state databases.
Deadline to start the program
This year—2016—is the last year to start the program. Those who have not received at least one incentive payment by the 2016 program year won’t be able to receive any EHR incentive program payments in the future.
DHCS urges all professionals who have not yet participated, but who may be eligible, to submit an application as soon as possible. New applications are being accepted now and the final deadline for new applications is March 31, 2017. As part of this application, professionals must submit proof of a contract or other binding agreement for certified EHR technology, signed before or on the date of application.
The website for submitting an application, the State Level Registry, can be accessed at http://medi-cal.ehr.ca.gov. There you will also find detailed information about the program and how professionals can obtain assistance and certified electronic health records.