GAO Calls for Improvements in CMS' Oversight of EHR Program

CMS has room to improve its process for verifying that health care providers qualify for incentive payments through the meaningful use program, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office, Health Data Management reports.

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Report Details

To compile the report, GAO analyzed Medicare meaningful use attestation data from 2011. The office also reviewed eligibility verification procedures for four state Medicaid programs -- Iowa, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Texas.

In addition, GAO interviewed officials from several regional extension centers, as well as the:

  • American Hospital Association;
  • American Medical Association;
  • Health IT Policy Committee; and
  • Health IT Standards Committee (Goedert, Health Data Management, 4/30).

GAO's Recommendations

In its report, GAO recommended that CMS:

  • Establish timelines to quickly evaluate the effectiveness of audits for the Medicare portion of the meaningful use program;
  • Study the feasibility of conducting more prepayment verifications for Medicare providers seeking to participate in the meaningful use program; and
  • Collect at least as much eligibility verification data from Medicare providers as it recommends that states collects from Medicaid providers participating in the meaningful use program (Monegain, Healthcare IT News, 5/1).

CMS' Response to Recommendations

CMS has agreed to implement or at least consider most of GAO's recommendations.

However, CMS rejected a recommendation that it offer to collect meaningful use attestations from Medicaid providers on behalf of states.

CMS said that such a change would be unnecessary and likely would cause confusion among health care providers (Daly, Modern Healthcare, 4/30).

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