Step by Step Directions for Getting the EHR Incentive Money: My Notes From Last Week’s CMS Call

First the facts on what has taken place so far in the 2011 EHR Incentive Programs.

  • As of June 30th, the total of Medicare EHR Incentive Program payments is over $94 million.
  • As of June 30th, over $166 million has been paid in Medicaid EHR incentives since the program began in January.  In May and June, four states launched Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs – Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington, bringing the total states with Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs to 21.  More states will launch in July.
  • There are 68,001 active registrations of eligible professionals and eligible hospitals for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.

If your group hasn’t received a check and hasn’t registered for the Medicare or Medicaid Incentive Program, then this blog post is for you! For anyone who is really just beginning their EHR journey, today’s presentation clarified previous information given by CMS, as well as giving listeners new information about the programs.

The two primary steps to obtaining incentive payments are:

  1. Register for the EHR Incentive Program
  2. Attest to meeting all the incentive payment eligibility criteria

Let’s start with information on the two different incentive programs. Remember that an eligible professional (EP) is defined differently for Medicare than it is for Medicaid.

Step One: Are You Eligible for the EHR Incentive Programs?

Medicare Eligible Professionals:

  • Must be a physician (defined as MD, DO, DDM/DDS, optometrist, podiatrist, or chiropractor) – mid-levels do not qualify
  • Must have Pa rt B Medicare allowed charges
  • Must not be hospital-based which is defined as having 90% or more of their covered
    professional services in either an inpatient (POS 21) or emergency room (POS 23) of a hospital
  • Must be enrolled in PECOS
  • Must be living (Social Security records are examined)

Medicaid Eligible Professionals:

  • Must be a MD, DO, DDM/DDS or a Nurse Practitioner, a Certified Nurse Midwife, OR a Physician Assistant who is the lead provider for a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) or Rural Health Clinic (RHC).
  • Must either have 30% or more Medicaid patient volume (pediatricians must have 20% or more Medicaid patient volume) OR must practice predominantly in a FQHC or RHC
    with 30% or more needy individual patient volume. Needy is defined as patients who are Medicaid, Medicare, uninsured, under-insured, charity care and indigent care.
  • Must be licensed and credentialed
  • Must have no OIG exclusions
  • Must be living (Social Security records are examined)
  • Must not be hospital-based, which is defined as having 90% or more of their covered
    professional services in either an inpatient (POS 21) or emergency room (POS 23) of a hospital

Step Two: How much EHR Incentive Money is Available From the Two Programs?

Medicare Incentive Payments:

  • First eligible year for the program is 2011.
  • Incentive amounts are based on the EP’s Medicare Fee-for-Service allowable charges.
  • Maximum incentives are $44,000 over 5 years.
  • Incentives decrease if the EP does not start until after 2012.
  • EPs must begin using an EHR by 2014 to receive incentive payments.
  • Last payment year is 2016.
  • An extra 10% bonus amount based on actual payments from Medicare, not allowables, is available for EPs practicing predominantly in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). Go here to see if you practice in a HPSA.
  • EPs will receive only 1 incentive payment per year.

Medicaid Incentive Payments:

  • First eligible year for the program is 2011.
  • Maximum incentives are $63,750 over 6 years.
  • Incentives are the same regardless of the year started.
  • The first year’s payment is $21,250.
  • Must begin by 2016 to receive incentive payments.
  • No extra bonus for health professional shortage areas.
  • Incentives are available through 2021.
  • EPs will receive only 1 incentive payment per year.

How Do You Choose Which Program to Qualify For?

  1. First, determine which programs you can qualify for based on the type of eligible professional you are.
  2. Then, determine which programs you can qualify for based on your patient population.
  3. Next, review the requirements and potential payments and/or reductions for each program – get your calculator out!
    • Once an eligible professional has demonstrated meaningful use in the first participation year, they may receive an incentive payment equal to 75% of Medicare allowable charges for covered professional services furnished by the eligible professional in a payment year VERSUS Once an eligible professional has demonstrated adoption, implementation, upgrading, or meaningful use of certified EHR technology in the first participation year, they may receive an incentive payment of $21,250 from Medicaid. Remember the payments are for each provider. Don’t forget the 10% HPSA bonus if you participate in  the Medicare program.
    • Medicare requires EPs to escalate meaningful use participation and reporting and ultimately plans to impose payment reductions for EPs not engaged in using a certified EHR and implementing meaningful use. For Medicaid, each state has some leeway is defining the criteria for eligibility for incentives and there are no plans for payment reductions as a part of the program.
  4. If you not up to speed on meaningful use and want to collect incentive money for 2011, it will be easier to you to meet the requirements of the Medicaid program than the Medicare program, if you are eligible for the Medicaid program and there is one offered in your state.
  5. Remember that EPs can switch programs once after their first year in either program.

Getting Ready for the Registration Process

  1. Make sure you have your provider’s National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) User ID and Password. If the provider does not know this information, s/he will have to call and get the information. The NPI, NPPES User ID and password are the basis for everything else. While you’re in that record, make sure all the provider’s information is correct and completely up-to-date. You’ll have an opportunity to update this information during the registration process, but it will not backfill the NPPES record.
  2. Make sure your provider’s enrollment record in the Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System (PECOS). You can see if s/he has a record in PECOS here – scroll down this page to “OrderingReferringReport”. This is a 16,000+ page pdf file and as of this post it was updated June 27, 2011. (Note: Eligible professionals who are only participating in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program are not required to be enrolled in PECOS.)
  3. If you do not have an active User ID and Password for NPPES or PECOS, request them via Identity & Access Management. You will need your type 2 NPI, your Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), and your address from IRS Form CP-575. You will also need to mail a copy of IRS Form CP-575 as directed.
  4. Payee Tax Identification Number (if you are reassigning your benefits to a group or a hospital).
  5. Payee National Provider Identifier (NPI) if you are reassigning your benefits. Note that many independent physicians are reassigning their benefits to their practice and almost all hospital-sponsored physicians are reassigning their benefits to the hospital.

Step by Step Directions to Register for the Medicare/Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs

NOTE! You can register before you have a certified EHR. Register even if you do not have an enrollment record in PECOS which is required for all Medicare eligible professionals. If you plan to register for the Medicaid program, your state’s Medicaid program must be up and running. Check to see if your state has launched a Medicaid EHR Incentive Program here.

  1. Go to the registration site here. The Login page instructs the user on what is required for a valid User ID and Password combination.  EPs are required to have an active NPI and must have a National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) user account to login. For users who do not have either of these requirements, click on the link provided to you in the program.
  2. A link to the Identity and Access Management System, I&A, is also provided. The I&A system allows EP users use to reset their passwords and edit their account information. Any additional login issues can be resolved by contacting the help desk (see info at the bottom of this post.) At the bottom of the page the user enters their User ID and Password combination.  Please keep in mind that both of the fields are case-sensitive.
  3. Once the user has logged into the system, the links and tabs displayed in the top right hand corner are shown on every page.
    • The Home hyperlink navigates the user to the Welcome page.
    • The Help hyperlink opens a PDF User Manual that assists the user throughout the Registration process.
    • If at anytime you wish to logout of the system, click the Log Out link and select yes in the pop-up window.
    • The Instructions section on the Welcome page describes the actions that can be performed under each of the tabs.  The EP submits and maintains their registration under the Registration tab and completes their Attestation under the Attestation tab.
    • The Status Tab provides a snapshot of the user’s current standing in the EHR Incentive Program. This includes the status of their registration and any attestations and payments associated with their account.
    • The Account Management tab allows the user to proceed to the I&A system in order to change their account information.
    • Clicking the Registration tab will reveal a set of instructions about the actions that can be performed. These options will differ depending on the status of the registration.
  4. The EP’s name, social security number, and NPI are retrieved from their NPPES account.  If they have not started their registration, the status will be blank and Register will be the only available action.
  5. Select the Register link to begin.
  6. The Registration ID is displayed on the “Topics for this Registration” page. Write this number down for tracking purposes.
  7. There are three topics that an Eligible Professional must complete before submitting their Registration.  They are EHR Incentive Program, Personal Information, and Business Address and Phone. The “Begin Submission” button cannot be selected until all of the topics are complete.  Select the “Start Registration” button to navigate to the first topic.
  8. On the EHR Incentive Program page, EPs are given the option to receive either a Medicare or Medicaid EHR Incentive Payment.  For additional information about the two EHR Incentive Programs select the link that is provided. By selecting the Medicare option and clicking the “Apply” button, the EP type field page cursor moves across screen to highlight information. Provider Types that are eligible in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program are displayed in the dropdown. Selecting the Medicaid option and then the “Apply” button refreshes the page with two fields, Medicaid State/Territory and Eligible Professional Type. Only those states and territories participating in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program are displayed in the Medicaid State/Territory dropdown. Provider types that are eligible for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program are displayed in the dropdown.
  9. Two additional links on the EHR Incentive Program page provide the user with information on certified EHRs and the EHR Certification Number. The Eligible
    Professional is required to indicate whether they are currently using a certified EHR.
    A provider’s EHR system is not required to be certified prior to registration; however, an EHR Certification Number will be required at the time of attestation. See the Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL) for a listing of “certified” EHR products and to identify a product’s corresponding certification number.Select the “Save and Continue”
    button to navigate to the next topic.
  10. The Name and Identifiers displayed on the Personal Information page are retrieved from the user’s NPI record on the NPPES system. These fields cannot be modified in the EHR Incentive Program System. The Payee TIN Type field provides the user with two options in terms of who receives the EHR Incentive Payments.  If the payments should be sent directly to the Eligible Professional, the SSN tab should be selected in the Payee TIN Type field. If the payments should be sent to a group associated with the Eligible Professional, the user should select E-I-N in the Payee TIN Type field and then select the “Apply” button. After the page is refreshed, three additional fields are displayed.
  11. The next step is to select the Group that should receive the payments.  A Group Name will only appear in the dropdown if the EP’s Medicare enrollment in the Provider Enrollment, Chain, and Ownership System, or PECOS, has reassigned benefits to the Group. After the Group Name is selected, the Group’s TIN is retrieved from PECOS and displayed in the Payee TIN field.  It is also required that the user enters the NPI associated with the Group in the Payee NPI field. If the user had selected to register for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program, the system requires the user to manually enter the Group Name, Payee TIN, and Payee NPI. A dropdown list of Group Names would not be provided. Select the “Save and Continue” button to navigate to the next topic.
  12. The address and phone number displayed on the Business Address and Phone page is consistent with the Practice Location on the Eligible Professional’s NPI record. Unlike the Personal Information page, the address and phone number fields can be modified here. However, if changes are made to the address and phone number in the EHR Incentive Program System, the changes will not be reflected on the Eligible Professional’s NPI record.  E-mail Address is also a required field and must be entered with the correct email address format. Select the “Save and Continue” button to complete the last topic.
  13. Once the user has entered the required registration information, all three of the topics are marked as completed.  To initiate the submission process, select the “Begin Submission” button.
  14. The Verify Registration page displays a summary of the registration information.  It displays Personal Information, Business Address, as well as the Incentive Program that was chosen for this registration. The “Reason for Submission” section describes the action that the user is currently performing on the registration. If any of the information on this page is incorrect, the user should select the “Previous Page” button and make the appropriate modification.
  15. After verifying that all of the information is correct, please select the “Submit” button to proceed. Before the registration can be submitted, the user must review and agree to the Registration Disclaimer.  Agreeing to the legal notice means that the EP is certifying that the information provided in the registration is true and accurate.  Please take the time to review each line of the disclaimer.  Select the “Agree” button to proceed.
  16. If the registration passes all validations, the submission will be successful. Please keep in mind that things like a non-approved Medicare enrollment in PECOS or OIG Exclusions can result in registration failure. Contact the help desk
    to resolve any of these issues.
  17. The Submission Receipt page reminds users that they will not receive an e-mail confirmation and that attestation information must be submitted in order to qualify for an incentive payment. Print the Submission Receipt page by selecting the “Print” button at the bottom of the page.  Select the “Return to Home” button to proceed.
  18. A registration must be Active in order to proceed with Attestation and Payment.  If any changes need to be made to the registration, the user would select the Modify link and navigate back to the topics page.  The registration can also be cancelled, which would end the Eligible Professional’s participation in the EHR Incentive Program.
  19. Selecting the Status tab navigates the user to the Status Summary page.  The Select link navigates to the Status Detail page which displays all of the registration information in one location. The Additional Information link expands to display more registration information and the status of validations that are performed during submission.

Q & A from the listeners (always the best part!)

Q: Do you have to have paid for an EHR to receive the money? Can you use a Free EHR and still receive the incentive money?

A: Yes, you can use a free EHR and still receive the incentive money. The incentive money is to assist EPs implement EHRs and is not intended to be used only to purchase the software. Remember that the EHR must be certified by one of the certifying bodies and must be certified for ambulatory care.

Q: Is there a certain amount of time after registering that an EP must attest for Medicaid?

A: Once an EP registers, there is no deadline for attesting. Once an EP has attested, payment will be received in 45 days or less.

Q: Is the denominator for the meaningful use measures all patients that an EP sees, or just all Medicare or Medicaid patients seen during a specific period?

A: The denominator is all patients that the EP sees during the applicable period.

Q: Are radiologists eligible?

A: Yes. The radiologist must use a certified ambulatory care EHR. There is no guideline as to where the information going into the EMR comes from, with the exception of the CPOE measure. Many radiologists have expressed concerns as they do not actually “see” patients – CMS will be addressing this in the future.

Q: Where does the certification number needed for the EHR Incentive Program registration come from?

A: The certification number comes from the CHPL website. Get the EHR Vendor’s certification number, enter that number into the CHPL site and a registration/attestation number will be provided from the CHPL program to enter into the registration/certification program.

nursing home visits

Q: Is attestation the last step after completing the 90-day reporting period and collecting the data for the Medicare meaningful use program?

A: Yes.

Q: Do visits count if an EP sees patients in nursing homes?

A. Nursing home visits can count if a certified ambulatory EHR is being used, for instance if the EP carries a laptop with him, or if the visit information is later entered into the EP’s EHR.

Q: Can an administrator or other third party complete the registration and attestation?

A: Yes, if the third party goes through the Identity and Authority Management system, they can register and attest. The system will ask for the third party’s social security number as they will be legally attesting to the information entered.

Q: What is the latest 90-day period an EP can use a certified EHR to receive an incentive payment for 2011?

A: October 1, 2011 – December 31, 2011 is the latest 90-day period. EPs must start using a certified EHR by October 1, 2011 and must demonstrate meaningful use by providing data via the attestation process before 60 days after the close of the 2011 calendar year.

Q: What if due to the EP’s specialty none of the meaningful use measures can be met?

A: The EP must exhaust all core, alternate and menu measures by answering “0”, exhausting all 38 of the measures by attesting “0” to all 38.

Q: If state does not accept any electronic submission of public health information, is the EP excluded from having to meet this requirement?

A: Yes.

Resources:

EHR Information Center

Hours of Operation: 7:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. (Central Time)
Monday through Friday, except federal holidays.
1-888-734-6433 (primary number) or 888-734-6563 (TTY number)

 

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