CMS Issues New and Updated HIPAA and HITECH Act FAQs: EHR Incentive Payment Start Dates

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) periodically issues new and updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). will periodically reproduce new and updated Questions and Answers pertaining to HIPAA Administrative Simplification standards and implementation specifications and to HITECH Act provisions that will be of interest to its readers.  This FAQ [ID#9807] was created on June 22, 2009, and updated by CMS on August 18, 2009.

Question:  When will CMS begin to pay incentives to eligible professionals and hospitals for using certified Electronic Health Records (EHRs)?

Answer:  By statute [American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009], the earliest dates that CMS will be able to pay an incentive under Medicare is October 1, 2010, for hospitals, and January 1, 2011, for eligible professionals.

The statute does not define a date for the Medicaid incentives program.  Given the range of regulatory and planning activities that must precede States being able to make provider incentive payments, as well as the importance of coordinating Medicaid and Medicare payments to prevent duplication, CMS does not expect that States will be able to make such payments until 2011.

Work is underway to define the meaningful EHR user criteria, as well as the requirements for applying for and receiving the EHR payment incentives.  CMS expects to issue a proposed rule in late 2009 [relating to these matters].

For information on the Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs, see Title IV, pp. 353-382 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), signed by President Obama on February 17, 2009, which is available for download on

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