Several incentive programs have been introduced over the past few years in order to encourage physicians to use health information technology for their practices, particularly electronic health records. For eligible professionals who have yet to meet the requirements for these programs, penalties will soon be going into effect.

 Financial Penalties

Beginning January 1st, 2015, there will be a 1% penalty for those physicians who haven’t demonstrated meaningful use, and a 2% penalty for those not participating in e-prescribing programs. The penalties will increase by 1% each year, until they reach a maximum of 5% by 2019. The Physician Quality Reporting System offers incentives to EPs who provide quality reports on their practice based on selected measures. The incentives include bonuses between 0.5% and 2% of annual reimbursements. However, in 2015, physicians who failed to report this data by 2013 or didn’t correctly report the data will face adjustments in their payments up to 1.5%. Those who submit quality reports next year will be able to avoid the penalty for 2017. They‘re still subject to the 2015 and 2016 penalties.

Payments Expiring

In addition to the penalties, two programs benefiting primary care physicians will be expiring. The Medicare-Medicaid Parity program was implemented in November 2012, increasing Medicaid payments for certain primary care services to Medicare levels, provided that physicians specific certain requirements. Though many have hoped to extend the program, it’ll be ending in 2015.

The Primary Care Incentive program qualified primary care physicians for bonuses up to 10% of their Medicare reimbursements for services provided January 1, 2011 and onward. This program will be expiring as well, at the beginning of 2016. With the loss of these payment programs and the introduction of the penalties, practices may be faced with a considerable decrease in their finances.

Author: Apoorva Anupindi

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