CMS Announces New Medicaid Initiative Funding Interoperable Technology for Long-Term Care Providers Currently Ineligible for EHR Incentives
March 17, 2016 11:34 AM
On March 2, 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new Medicaid initiative to bring interoperable technology to long-term care, behavioral health providers, substance abuse treatment centers, and other providers. CMS has updated guidance to expand the scope of state expenditures eligible for the 90 percent matching rate to those that promote health information exchange (HIE) and encourage the adoption of certified Electronic Health Records (EHR).
According to CMS, the initiative is designed to help bridge the information sharing gap in Medicaid by permitting states to request the 90 percent enhanced matching funds from CMS “to connect a broader variety of Medicaid providers to a health information exchange than those providers who are eligible for such connections today.” CMS added that “this additional funding will enhance the sustainability of health information exchanges and lead to increased connectivity among Medicaid providers.” For example, CMS stated, the exchange of information “can support patients with multiple chronic conditions as they navigate specialists, hospitals, primary care, home health care, and pharmacies.”
During a speech the day of the announcement, CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt said he was “excited” to announce the interoperability funding “to connect many of the remaining parts of the system that are not part of the EHR incentive program but serve our neediest Medicaid patients every day – long-term care, behavioral health and substance abuse providers.”
In its Legislative Blueprint for Action, NAHC stated that Congress needs to continue to work with the Obama administration to provide financial support for home health agencies [HHAs] to encourage the adoption of electronic health records by home care providers. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, should lend assistance to all health care sectors to support for the transition to interoperable EHRs across the continuum of care. This support to currently non-incentivized providers in post acute care settings should include monetary incentives such as small business loans, tax incentives, grants from the Medicare and Medicaid programs, partnerships with hospitals and physician practices, grants for the development of HIT standards for the Home Health Plan of Care and Care Transition data standards. Lastly, ONC should also develop voluntary EHR certification guidelines for home care EHR products.
Although not mandated by the HITECH Act to do so, in order to participate in the industry wide goal of EHRs, HHAs and hospices will require financial assistance to purchase the necessary systems and adopt new certified electronic health information technologies. Current reimbursement standards under Medicare, Medicaid, and other payers do not provide the capital foundation for such purchases. As the opportunities for health information exchange increase home health agencies need to be able to meet these demands function as a key component of longitudinal care coordination and patient centered care.
Additional information about the CMS announcement is available here.