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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is giving healthcare providers the ability to track online the status of the incentive payments they are due for meaningful use adoption of electronic health records, similar to the "Where's My Refund" feature on the Internal Revenue Service' income tax site.
Once CMS has notified providers they have met meaningful use requirements they will be able to determine the status of their payments at the same site they registered for the incentives and attested to meeting the meaningful use criteria, according to Alan Constantian, director of the information services design and development group in CMS' CIO's office.
"They would be able to click on the status tab and see what the current status of their payment is, for example, payment pending, payment ready, check issued, payment in progress or payment successful," he said in a recent interview with Government Health IT.
CMS will open registration for the incentive program beginning Jan. 3, he said. Providers who are Medicare participants must be registered in the agency's Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System (PECOS), which is available online through the CMS Web site.
PECOS manages, tracks and validates the enrollment of providers and suppliers in the Medicare program.
To qualify for incentives, providers must verify they have demonstrated meaningful use of certified electronic health records (EHRs) for 90 days. When they are ready to do that, CMS will guide them to an attestation module through which they will answer questions and perform some calculations, Constantian said.
The earliest that CMS could make payments is April 2011, he said.
As part of eligibility for the maximum meaningful use incentives, physicians and practices must provide a threshold of Medicare services. They must bill Medicare for at least $24,000 in claims for 2011 before they can receive the maximum incentive payment of $18,000, even if they have already attested to complying with meaningful use requirements and been approved, he said.
"Once a month we're seeing if those providers who have attested and who qualify for the EHR incentives on their responses have reached that threshold of $24,000 of Medicare charges," Constantian said.
Most Medicare providers are expected to reach that level at some point during the year, he added.
When providers reach that threshold, the payment file contractor will generate electronic payment of the incentives through the same bank account that they receive payment for Medicare claims.
Information about incentive program is at http://www.cms.gov/EHRIncentivePrograms/ .