Health Law News From Arnold & Porter

Health Law News From Arnold & Porter

December 06, 2012
1 min read
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BLOG: HHS raises red flags about Medicare’s electronic health record incentive program

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From international law firm Arnold & Porter LLP comes timely views on current regulatory and legislative topics that weigh on the minds of today’s physicians and health care executives.

Ted Lotchin

As Healio readers are well aware, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act established financial incentive programs to promote the use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) technology by health care professionals and hospitals that care for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. As of September 2012, CMS had paid about $4 billion in incentive payments to 82,535 professionals and 1,474 hospitals. CMS intends to continue EHR incentive payments through 2016 at an anticipated total cost of $6.6 billion.

In a recent report that is sure to resonate across the provider landscape, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) determined that CMS faces significant obstacles in overseeing its EHR incentive program that may leave the program vulnerable to improper payments. The agency’s study is an early assessment that analyzed participants’ self-reported information from 2011 and reviewed CMS’s audit planning documents, regulations, and guidance. The OIG reported that, because professionals and hospitals self-report data to demonstrate that they meet program requirements, CMS must make efforts to verify these reports in order to ensure program integrity. The agency determined that CMS has not yet implemented strong pre-payment safeguards and that its post-payment audit capabilities are limited, and also made several recommendations to address these deficiencies.

The full report can be accessed here.

Ted Lotchin, JD, MPH, can be reached at Arnold & Porter LLP, 555 12th St. NW, Washington, DC 20004-1206; 202-942-5250; email: Ted.Lotchin@aporter.com