Meaningful Use incentive payments top $15.5 billion

Participation in the Meaningful Use incentive program continues to grow, with 3,661 Medicare eligible professionals, 2,240 Medicaid eligible professionals and 52 hospitals joining the ranks of active registrations in the program in June 2013, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' latest statistics. This brings the total of active registrations to 405,437 providers.

According to CMS' summary, the total number of providers receiving payment under the program since 2011 is 309,802, representing more than $15.5 billion in payouts.

Interestingly, CMS also reported that 1,916 eligible professionals and 331 eligible hospitals have had their incentive payments reduced due to sequestration.

The overall figures dovetail with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's annual report, which found that the "unprecedented" level of financial support for health IT adoption from the Meaningful Use Incentive Program is fueling the increase in electronic health record use by both hospitals and physicians.

CMS' summary, however, does not indicate some of the problems that EHR users have had with their systems, or with successfully attesting, which was addressed both in the RWJF report and in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's recent report to Congress.

The summary also does not indicate how many providers who have joined the Meaningful Use program and/or have successfully attested intend to remain in the program. One recent survey revealed that 20 percent of attesting physicians in the program plan to drop out, especially as the criteria for meeting Meaningful Use becomes more difficult.

To learn more:
- read the summary (.pdf)