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March 27, 2018

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Medical Coding News Archives

Stimulus Bill Puts EMRs on the Horizon

March 10, 2009:

The stimulus bill signed into law last month provides up to $44,000 per provider in financial incentives to encourage physicians and hospitals to fully adopt electronic records by 2015. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) allocates approximately $19 billion to Medicare and Medicaid to fund health information technology (HIT).

Physicians who adopt HIT initiatives by 2011 will receive a higher bonus ($18,000 in 2011) than those who put off adoption. This bonus will gradually decrease yearly until 2015. Physicians in rural professional shortage areas are eligible to receive a 10 percent increase in incentive payments.

Those providers who do not implement HIT by 2015 will be monetarily penalized. The penalties will initially be a 1 percent reduction in Medicare payments; the reduction will increase by 1 percent per year, up to a 5 percent reduction by 2018. The legislation does allow exceptions for significant hardship cases, such as insufficient internet access in rural areas.

The ARRA also establishes within the Department of Health and Human Services an Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology that will be headed by a national coordinator who will be appointed by the secretary of HHS and will report directly to the secretary. The objectives of this office will be to develop an infrastructure and standards that allow for the electronic use and exchange of information.

The government estimates that the advancement of HIT will ultimately save $12 billion through improved quality of care and care coordination as well as reductions in medical errors and duplicate care. 

Deborah C. Hall
Clinical/Technical Editor


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