CMS to build IT systems to track incentive payments

Systems will help monitor $17B in health IT stimulus spending

Officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plan to spend as much as $905 million by September 2015 on information technology systems that can support and monitor the $17 billion in incentive payments to doctors and hospitals authorized under the economic stimulus law, according to a new planning document.

Under the law, CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) will develop the policies and requirements for distributing the incentive payments that will start in fiscal 2011. To qualify for the payments, providers must adopt health IT and show “meaningful use” of electronic patient records.

CMS will use its funds to develop, implement and maintain IT systems that will assess and deliver the payments accurately to eligible providers. The systems are expected to include applications for determining eligibility, enrolling applicants, making payments, reporting on quality, and providing financial accountability and monitoring, according to the plan, which was posted online at Recovery.gov on May 15.

CMS will work with ONC to develop policies to implement Congress’ requirements for the payments, establish new payment policies, provide tracking methods and notify the public, among other activities.

In 2009, the centers will work with ONC to define “meaningful use” and develop rules that allow for public input into the incentive programs. The agency will also plan for the IT systems.

In 2010, CMS will develop the systems, write final rules for the incentives, and create the systems that will monitor and evaluate the incentive payments. Starting in 2015, doctors and hospitals that do not use electronic records will receive lower Medicare payments.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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