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Meaningful Use


What is Meaningful Use?

The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs provide financial incentives for the meaningful use of certified EHR technology to improve patient care. To receive an EHR incentive payment, providers have to show that they are meaningfully using their EHRs by meeting thresholds for a number of objectives. The EHR Incentive Programs are phased in three stages with increasing requirements. The program started in 2011 and payments will continure through 2017. Eligible professionals can participate for up to 5 continuous years throughout the duration of the program.

Eligible professionals participate in the program on the calendar year, while eligible hospitals and CAHs participate according to the federal fiscal year. Providers must attest to demonstrating meaningful use every year to receive an incentive and avoid a Medicare payment adjustment.

Who is an eligible professional?

  • Incentive payments for eligible professionals are based on individual practitioners.
  • If you are part of a practice, each eligible professional may qualify for an incentive payment if each eligible professional successfully demonstrates meaningful use of certified EHR technology.
  • Each eligible professional is only eligible for one incentive payment per year, regardless of how many practices or locations at which he or she provide services.
  • Hospital-based eligible professionals are not eligible for incentive payments. An eligible professional is considered hospital-based if 90% or more of his or her services are performed in a hospital inpatient (Place Of Service code 21) or emergency room (Place Of Service code 23) setting.
19 billion MU

CMS has disbursed more than $19 billion in reimbursement incentives

55000 MU resource

Roughly 55,000 EPs were approved for hardship exemptions by CMS in 2014

55 percent mu resource

55 percent of eligible hospitals have received an EHR incentive payment for meaningful use

Meaningful Use Table

What if I don't demonstrate Meaningful Use?

Beginning in 2015, eligible professionals who do not successfully demonstrate meaningful use will be subject to a payment adjustment. The payment reduction starts at 1% and increases each year that an eligible professional does not demonstrate meaningful use, to a maximum of 5%.

Payment Adjustments

In the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), Congress mandated that payment adjustments should be applied to Medicare eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) that are not meaningful users of Certified Electronic Health Record (EHR) Technology under the Medicare EHR Incentive Program.

To avoid a payment adjustment, eligible providers must demonstrate meaningful use in either the Medicare EHR Incentive Program or in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. Eligible providers who are only eligible to participate in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program are not subject to these payment adjustments.
payment adjustments

Hardship Exceptions

Eligible professionals and eligible hospitals may be exempt from payment adjustments if they can show that demonstrating meaningful use would result in a significant hardship. To be considered for an exception, an eligible professional or eligible hospital  must complete a Hardship Exception application along with proof of the hardship. If approved, the hardship exception is valid for 1 payment year only. A new application must be submitted if the hardship continues for the following payment year. In no case may a provider be granted an exception for more than 5 years.

Some providers will automatically be granted a hardship exception. CMS will use Medicare data on these providers to determine their hardship exception. Eligible professionals can use the Hardship Exception Tool to determine if they will avoid the upcoming 2015 and 2016 Medicare EHR Incentive Program payment adjustments by demonstrating meaningful use, or if they should apply for a hardship exception.

Other Helpful Meaningful Use Resources for Your Practice

CMS Educational Resources
Learn more about the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Helath Record (EHR) Incentive Programs by visiting CMS.gov. Here you will find a number of resources to help with registration, attestation, provider enrollment, fact sheets, and more. Click here to visit CMS.gov EHR Incentive Programs website

CMS Fact Sheet-EHR Incentive Programs in 2015 and Beyond

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released final rules that simplify requirements and add new flexibilities for providers to make, electronic health information available when and where it matters most and for health care providers and consumers to be able to readily, safely, and securely exchange that information. Click here to view the full CMS Fact Sheet.