Texas Medicare, Medicaid EHR incentive payments reach $30 million

Tags: centers for medicare and medicaid services, regional extension center, ehr, incentive, program

Texas Medicare, Medicaid EHR incentive payments reach $30 million

posted 11.01.11

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have paid $30 million in electronic health record incentive dollars to Texas physicians in 2011, according to a federal official.

The funds received by Texas physicians and hospitals combined comprise 20 percent of the total $870 million already distributed throughout the United States. Hospitals in Texas have received $158 million in incentives since the incentive program started on Jan. 1, 2011. A total of 11,000 physicians in Texas have registered to participate while only 1,400 have completed the steps necessary to earn the incentive dollars.

TAFP member Kevin Spencer, M.D., with Premier Family Physicians, says the push for electronic health records goes beyond just digitizing paper records and actually helps physicians diagnose and treat patients. “Going electronic is worth your time and energy. Our EHR enables us to provide better care in terms of quality and efficiency. The rewards are long term; it’s all about patient care and doing the right thing for your patients.”

Read more about Spencer’s experience with the incentive program in the technology feature of the latest edition of Texas Family Physician, “Installing the future.”

Helping physicians earn federal EHR incentives, the Texas Regional Extension Centers were created with federal dollars to provide on-site technical consulting. RECs can help physicians enable the full use and potential of health information technology.

Texas is home to four RECs, with services covering a range of needs — whether starting with a paper-based system, looking to optimize a current EHR system, or striving to achieve “meaningful use” to qualify for the federal EHR incentives. The Texas RECs aim to help physicians fully realize the benefits of EHRs in improving efficiencies and patient care. They serve as a direct pipeline to the national program with HIT adoption.

Primary care physicians qualify for a grant that lowers the annual price of services to $300 per physician. Federal incentives for consulting and EHR use are unprecedented and will not last long. Learn more about the Texas RECs, available incentives, REC and incentive eligibility, and meaningful use by visiting TMA’s REC Resource Center. Still have questions? Call the TMA Health Information Technology Helpline at (800) 880-5720, or e-mail hit@texmed.org.