Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is sponsoring a bill (S 3539) that would expand meaningful use incentive payments to certain safety-net clinics that currently do not qualify for the Medicaid electronic health record incentive program, Government Health IT reports (Brino, Government Health IT, 9/18).
Background on Meaningful Use Program
Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.
To qualify for the Medicaid EHR incentive program, Medicaid beneficiaries must account for at least 30% of a health care provider's patient volume (iHealthBeat, 7/5/11).
Kerry's bill -- called the Medicaid IT to Enhance Community Health Act, or MITECH -- would expand Medicaid meaningful use eligibility to safety-net clinics that do not meet the 30% Medicaid threshold but that serve lower-income patients as at least 30% of their patient volume.
In a Congressional Record statement, Kerry said, "Given that Medicaid eligibility levels are so low in many states, it is difficult for many safety-net providers to meet the 30% Medicaid threshold required to participate in the Medicaid EHR incentive program even though their patients are predominantly low-income."
The bill calls for HHS to develop a process to determine which safety-net clinics are eligible for Medicaid meaningful use payments.
According to Kerry, the legislation has been endorsed by several groups, including the:
- Association of State and Territorial Health Officials;
- National Association of Public Hospitals; and
- Trust for America's Health (Government Health IT, 9/18).