GAO: Incentive payments more than doubled from 2011 to 2012

More than twice as many providers successfully attested to meaningful use of their EHRs in 2012 than in 2011, according to a new report issued this week by the Government Accountability Office.

The 50-page performance audit of the Meaningful Use program, distributed to Congressional Committees, the Department of Health and Human Services and other interested parties, found that 48 percent of hospitals successfully attested to Meaningful Use, up from 16 percent in 2011, and received $6.9 billion in incentive payments, more than twice the $2.3 billion hospitals received in 2011.

The incentive payments ranged from $4,827 to $4.7 million. Almost one third (31 percent) of eligible professionals received payments in 2012, up from 10 percent in 2011.

However, there continues to be wide variation as to which providers were successful attesters.

For example, hospitals and professionals in southern states were more likely to have earned the incentive payment than in the western states. And urban, acute care hospitals successfully attested in greater proportion than rural or critical access hospitals.    

"Identifying the number and characteristics of providers that participated during the first and second years of the Medicare EHR program can provide important information on whether certain types of providers were more likely than others to participate. This information could also provide an early indication of the types of providers that may be more likely to receive payment reductions in future years of the program," the report states.

Almost $15.9 billion in Meaningful Use incentive payments have been awarded to providers since the program's inception. However, concerns have been raised that providers with fewer resources and tech savvy will fall even further behind once the industry moves to Stage 2 of the program.

To learn more:
- read the GAO report