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Sequester cuts 2% from Medicare EHR incentive program payments

Eligible professionals and hospitals should expect a 2% reduction to Medicare electronic health record (EHR) incentive payments for meaningful use of EHRs, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services confirmed.

The cuts, called the sequester, will apply to all EHR incentive payments for services provided on or after April 1. EHR incentive payments distributed under Medicaid are exempt from the reductions.

In government jargon, a sequester means an automatic, across-the-board budget cut. The sequester affecting Medicare reimbursement payments was scheduled to go into effect January 1 under the Budget Control Act of 2011, but Congress postponed the cuts after New Year’s via the American Taxpayer Relief Act. President Obama officially issued an order for sequestration on March 1, two months later.

Though many, if not most, eligible hospitals participate in both the Medicare and Medicaid portions of the EHR incentive program, only 181 are listed as “Medicare only” providers on the latest CMS report on active registrations.

There are floating concerns that EHR adoption will slow even more, as providers see less benefit to investing resources into EHR implementation and attaining meaningful use. And as a proposed  Congressional bill extending meaningful use exceptions emerges, healthcare providers will keep one eye on legislation and the other on their budgets.

Providers can visit the EHR Incentive Programs website for the more news and updates on EHR incentive programs.

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