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Capitol Health Call
April 13, 2011

Electronic Health Records

JAMA. 2011;305(14):1402. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.414

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is recommending that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) fix inconsistencies in 2 incentive programs that were designed to encourage physicians to use health information technology.

In a report released February 17, the GAO said duplications and inconsistent technology requirements are problematic for physicians participating in the programs (http://tiny.cc/obpc7). The Electronic Health Records Program and the Electronic Prescribing Program, established by Congress, provide incentive payments to eligible Medicare physicians who adopt and use health information technology and also mandate penalties for those who do not. The Electronic Health Records program provides incentives from 2011 to 2016 and begins penalizing in 2015, and it requires that physicians use systems certified to meet criteria established by the Department of Health and Human Services. The Electronic Prescribing Program establishes incentives from 2009 to 2013 and penalties from 2012 to 2014, and it does not require certified technology systems. Physicians will be required to report to both programs from 2011 to 2014 when penalties for the Electronic Prescribing Program end.

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