How are Meaningful Use Penalties Affecting Physicians?

Home > Electronic Health Record > How are Meaningful Use Penalties Affecting Physicians?

TL;DR
Despite an EHR Incentive Program a large number of eligible providers still did not attest to Meaningful Use standards. Penalties can range from $1-$2000 or even higher in some cases.

Meaningful Use Incentive Program

When the meaningful use program was first introduced, it was made clear to physicians that they would be facing penalties if they failed to meet all of the requirements, and now, the time has come.

Beginning in January, more than 250,000 eligible providers (EPs) who did not attest to MU in 2013 had their Medicare reimbursements reduced by 1%. In addition, the 28,000 providers who did not meet e-prescribing standards faced a further 2% penalty on top of the 1% for MU. Those affected were informed beginning in December and had until the end of February to make an appeal.

The objective of the EHR Incentive Program was to encourage physicians to adopt electronic health records while providing incentive payments to help manage the cost of implementation and maintenance.

Now, many are worried that the meaningful use standards are too unforgiving. Several physician organizations have made requests for more flexible standards to give physicians a better chance of attestation. HIMSS is still working to convince the government to reduce the reporting period to 90 days rather than one year. In October, the American Medical Association suggested a 50% threshold for penalties and a 75% threshold for earning incentives.

The concern here is that if the program is not modified, it could become detrimental to its own cause. Over half of all EPs will be facing meaningful use penalties this year.

  • 34% will face penalties between $1-$250
  • 21% will face penalties between $250-$1000
  • 14% will face penalties between $1000-$2000
  • 31% will face penalties of $2000 or greater

While the breakdown shows that the majority of them (69%) will have payment adjustments less than $2,000, the penalties will only increase if providers are not able to attest to meaningful use.

Over 75% of EPs were unable to attest in 2014 and will be facing meaningful use penalties in the future. By 2019, reimbursements could be reduced by up to 5%, adding up to thousands of dollars.

It is argued that the meaningful use program has not done much to improve patient care but rather has had a negative effect on the practices themselves. According to the AMA, “the one-size-fits-all approach, that has not been proven to improve quality, has made it difficult for physicians to take part.” While the penalties are meant to encourage physicians to better utilize their EHR software, the program requirements and the severity of the penalties are not helping the situation.

The 2015 deadline has been extended until March 20th. Those who do not achieve meaningful use attestation this year will be facing penalties in 2017.

Author: Apoorva Anupindi

Leave a Reply