Early EHR adopters, mark your calendars:  CMS will begin accepting registration for participation in the Medicare EHR incentive program beginning January 3,  2010.   CMS will post a link to the registration process on its Registration and Attestation page on January 3.  The sooner you apply, the sooner you can begin to qualify for the $44,000 in additional Medicare funds per eligible professional which is being offered for meaningful use of electronic health records.

For the eligible professional incentives, the applications must be submitted on behalf of the professionals themselves, not their employers or practices, but the payments may be reassigned. 

In order to apply, eligible professionals will need:

  • National Provider Identifier (NPI)
  • National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) ID and Password
  • Payee Tax Identification Number (if you are reassigning your benefits)
  • Payee National Provider Identifier (NPI)(if you are reassigning your benefits)

Eligible hospitals will need:

  • CMS Identity and Access Management (I&A) User ID and Password
  • CMS Certification Number (CCN)
  • National Provider Identifier (NPI)
  • Hospital Tax Identification Number

Applicants for the Medicare incentive must be enrolled in PECOS.

Of course, you must be using certified EHR technology, but you do not need to disclose which certified EHR system you are using until the attestation process.  The Certified Health IT Product List is available at http://www.healthit.hhs.gov/CHPL.

Attestation of meaningful use will begin in April, with payments slated to begin in May.   The provider must install and verify meaningful use of the certified software for at least 90 days in 2011 to qualify for the EHR incentive money. The 90 days of  “meaningful use of certified EHR software” must occur before the end of 2011.  February 29, 2012 is the last day for eligible professionals to register and attest to receive an Incentive Payment for 2011.

The Medicaid incentive program also opens on the same day, but CMS cautions that some states may not be ready to register applicants right away.   keep in mind that if your practice or entity qualifies for both programs, you should evaluate which one is more beneficial to your situation since you cannot participate in both.  Medicaid offers up to $63,750 per qualifying practitioner over six years.

Providers are only required to register once for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. However, they must successfully demonstrate that they have either adopted, implemented or upgraded (first participation year for Medicaid) or meaningfully used certified EHR technology each year in order to receive an incentive payment for that year.

For more information, see CMS’s Path To Payment site.