Payers announce meaningful-use incentives

Four major insurers announced they will align their pay-for-performance programs with federal meaningful-use criteria for electronic medical records. However, it is not clear in all cases if those changes will mean increased P4P payments. Either way, the payers' moves, depending on the success and spread of their programs, could accelerate implementation of meaningful use.

According to Health Data Management, the payers are Aetna (NYSE: AET), Highmark, UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) and WellPoint (NYSE: WLP). Aetna will offer additional financial incentives for meaningful use, but has not decided whether those will be in the form of a higher P4P or a separate incentive program. At Highmark, adoption of meaningful use will be part of its P4P program, but details were not available. UnitedHealth will tie part of its P4P payments under a new national P4P program to demonstrate meaningful use, but it was not clear if that would mean higher payments, HDM reported. Meanwhile, demonstrating meaningful use will be a requirement of participation in Wellpoint's P4P program, but won't increase payments, according to the HDM report. 

At a Health Forum meeting on advancing EMR adoption and meaningful use, two key federal officials in health IT--CMS Principal Deputy Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and National Health IT Coordinator Dr. David Blumenthal--issued a joint statement, saying they were "pleased and encouraged" by initial steps by the payers and other organizations in support of advancing meaningful use.

To learn more:
- read the Health Data Management article
- here's the joint statement by the CMS and Health IT Coordinator Blumenthal
- check out Aetna's news release
- here's Highmark's news release