CMS: Providers face millions in Meaningful Use penalties

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimates that eligible providers who are subject to penalties under the Meaningful Use program could pay roughly $200 million in 2015.

That figure was shared by Elizabeth Myers of CMS' Office of E-Health Standards and Services at a joint meeting of the Office of the National Coordinator's Health IT Policy and Standards committees this week. Myers stressed that the number was based on historical claims data for the providers being penalized.

Myers further broke down that figure, sharing that CMS estimates that about 87,000 EPs--34 percent of the roughly 256,000 set to be penalized--will see Medicare payment adjustments between $1 and $250. About 78,000, or 31 percent of EPs subject to penalties, will see adjustments of $2,000 or more. Fifty-five thousand EPs will pay between $250 and $1,000, while 36,000 will pay between $1,000 and $2,000.

"I want to make it very clear that these are estimates, which is why they are very pretty, round numbers," Myers said. "The reason that these are estimates is because the payment adjustment is not a flat amount, it is a percentage of the claims that are submitted for Medicare services for 2015."

In December, CMS officials shared that roughly 257,000 EPs would be hit with a 1 percent penalty to their Medicare Physician Fee Schedule payments beginning Jan. 5.

During the same presentation, Myers announced that the Meaningful Use program has now paid more than $28 billion in Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments. Of the 127,815 eligible professionals that have successfully attested in 2014, 36,782 have attested to Stage 2 of Meaningful Use. Of the 4,090 eligible hospitals that have successfully attested, 1,815 attested for Stage 2 of the program.

The American Medical Association, in response to the estimated penalties, declared Meaningful Use to be "still broken."

"The AMA is alarmed ... that more than three quarters of eligible professionals still have been unable to attest to Meaningful Use," President-Elect Steven Stack said in a statement. "The program's one-size-fits-all approach, that has not been proven to improve quality, has made it difficult for physicians to take part. The penalties that physicians are facing as a result ... undermine the program's goals and take valuable resources away from physician practices that could be spent investing in better and additional technologies and moving to alternative models of care that could improve quality and lower costs."

To learn more:
- check out CMS' figures (.pdf)
- here's the AMA's statement