CMS: First payments for meaningful use will go out in May

The first round of incentive payments for "meaningful use" of EMRs will go out in May 2011, a top CMS official says.

Speaking at last week's meeting of the Health IT Standards Committee, Karen Trudel, deputy director of the CMS Office of E-Health Standards and Services, said that the first group of hospitals and physicians to achieve meaningful use will start seeing Medicare bonuses in mid-May. Providers must demonstrate meaningful use for a minimum of 90 consecutive days to receive a full year's credit for 2011, meaning "that no one will be able to attest [to compliance] before April," Trudel said, Government Health IT reports.

It appears that hospitals will not be able to qualify earlier, even though the hospital side of the incentive program begins Oct. 1 since Medicare Part A--inpatient care--follows the federal fiscal year, while the ambulatory Part B is tied to the calendar year. Trudel said CMS will open registration for stimulus money in January.

CMS is hard at work setting up the systems and processes to handle registration, attestation and payments for meaningful use. "We're now engineering back into the system all the changes that occurred in the final rule," Trudel told the federal advisory committee.

Eligible providers will have to have a national provider identifier and be registered in the CMS Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System (PECOS) in order to participate. Most hospitals and physicians providers also will need to have an active user account in the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES), according to Government Health IT.

Many state Medicaid programs will be on a slightly different payment schedule than CMS. Trudel said CMS will send policy guidance to state Medicaid directors this fall.

For more information:
- take a look at this Government Health IT story