GAO: More providers participate in Medicaid MU incentive program

Participation in the Medicaid Meaningful Use incentive program by both hospitals and professionals was higher than participation in the Medicare incentive program, according to a new report released Dec. 13 by the Government Accountability Office. GAO found that 1,964 hospitals, representing 39 percent of those eligible for incentive payments, and 45,962 of professionals (33 percent of those eligible) were awarded roughly $2.7 billion in Medicaid EHR incentive payments in 2011.

The amount received by hospitals ranged from $7,528 to $7.2 million, and the median payment was $613,512. Almost all of the professionals received the maximum amount available in 2011, which was $21,250.

The report also found that:

  • The largest proportion of successful hospital attesters (46 percent) were in the South; the smallest (15 percent) were in the Northeast
  • 62 percent of them were in urban areas  
  • 80 percent were acute care hospitals.

Of the professionals, the largest proportion, again--37 percent--were in the south, while the smallest (20 percent) were in the Midwest. Four-fifths (83 percent) of attesting professionals were in urban areas, while almost half (47 percent) signed agreements with ONC's regional extension centers for assistance in adopting EHRs and attesting to Meaningful Use.

The findings mirror those of a GAO report from July, in which the most successful attesters in the Medicare incentive program were located in the South and in bigger cities.

"Concerns have been raised that various factors, such as location in urban or rural areas or the size of hospitals and professional practices, may affect the extent to which different providers will respond to the incentives provided by the HITECH Act," the report's authors wrote. "Identifying the number and characteristics of providers that participated during the first year of the Medicaid EHR program can provide important information on whether certain types of providers were more likely than others to participate."

To learn more:
- read the GAO report