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AHA asks CMS to speed EHR program fix for CAHs

January 9, 2013

The AHA again urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today to quickly address a claims processing limitation that inappropriately excludes certain physicians providing services in the outpatient departments of critical access hospitals from the Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record incentive programs. The affected physicians are those for whom a CAH bills Medicare for their outpatient department services using the optional Method II. "We request that the agency correct the error as quickly as possible so that 'Method 2' physicians are eligible for the EHR incentive programs and can receive incentive payments for 2012 and 2013," the AHA said in a letter to the agency. "By waiting until 2014 to fix this issue, Method 2 physicians would become eligible for incentives only the year before penalties begin." The letter notes that physicians and other eligible professionals must first attest to meaningful use in 2012 to fully benefit from the incentives, and that waiting until 2014 would reduce their incentives by almost half. "If we assume that each CAH is billing for an average of 20 EPs, a $20,000 loss per physician would amount to missed incentives of $312 million," AHA notes. "This is an unacceptable loss for financially strapped rural providers who maintain access to care in underserved areas."