[authors: Danna Carmi, M. Leeann Habte, James R. Kalyvas, Richard K. Rifenbark, R. Michael Scarano Jr., Robert D. Sevell]
On March 7, 2012, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published proposed regulations (Proposed Regulations) outlining the Stage 2 “meaningful use” requirements for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Programs (collectively, the EHR Incentive Programs). In addition, the Proposed Regulations make several other proposed changes to the EHR Incentive Programs, including the Stage 1 meaningful use requirements. For those providers who are currently participating in the EHR Incentive Programs or expect to participate in these programs, the Proposed Regulations provide insight into the potential requirements necessary to meet the Stage 2 meaningful use criteria and otherwise qualify for EHR incentive payments. Providers who wish to submit comments on the Proposed Regulations must do so by May 7, 2012.

The EHR Incentive Programs, which were enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, are estimated to pay more than $30 billion in EHR incentive payments to eligible professionals (EPs), eligible hospitals, critical access hospitals (CAHs), and Medicare Advantage (MA) organizations that make “meaningful use of certified EHR technology” between 2011 and 2021. EPs who qualify for Medicare incentives can receive up to $44,000 per EP over a five-year period, while EPs who meet Medicaid patient-volume requirements and qualify for Medicaid incentives can receive up to $63,750 per EP over six years. (EPs who qualify for both EHR Incentive Programs must choose one.) The amount available to hospitals varies based on several factors, including the size of the hospital and Medicare or Medicaid patient volumes, but begins with a $2 million base payment.