Most of the federal EMR / EHR stimulus money available to physicians who adopt electronic medical records systems were passed as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery act of 2009. In total, this bill appropriated nearly $20 billion for the adoption of electronic health records information technology with $1.2 billion alone directed to EMR / EHR implementation. For those that qualify, incentives are paid through increased Medicaid or Medicare reimbursements.

In order to qualify for the EMR stimulus money, physicians must achieve the “meaningful use” standard, which states physicians must demonstrate that their electronic health records benefits the quality of health care they provide.

Electronic Health Records Benefits

Office physicians that accept Medicare payments can receive up to $44, 000 in federal stimulus funds across five years starting in 2011 or the first year where the first stage of “meaningful use” standards are achieved.

Under the Medicaid program, medical professionals with more than 30% of their patients paying through Medicaid (20% for pediatricians) can receive up to $64,000 in incentives across five years, starting in 2011.  However, if conversion to EHR systems deadlines are not met by 2015, the government may assess a series of penalties.

Mitigating Electronic Medical Records Cost Through EMR Stimulus Package

For hospitals, the EMR stimulus money has a base amount, discharge amount and Medicare share elements. The base amount of EMR stimulus that hospitals qualify for is $2 million. The hospitals also qualify for $200 per discharged patients between 1,150 and 23,000 discharges. The formula for Medicare Share payments is: Medicaid inpatient days/ (total inpatient days*(gross revenue-charity)/gross revenue)).

The “meaningful use” standard sets the benchmark that must be met in order to receive EHR stimulus money. The standard is divided into core objectives and clinical quality measurements that must be achieved in several stages. As an example of Stage One, core objectives include electronic medical billing systems and transcription objectives. A full list of “meaningful use” standards as well as a timeline for the standards can be accessed at the Department of Health and Human Services.



The EHR stimulus bill allocated $20 billion to improve health IT

Of this $1.2 billion was appropriated specifically to defray the cost of electronic medical records implementation

Office physicians that accept Medicare payments can receive up to $44, 000 in federal EMR stimulus package funds across five years