Economic Stimulus Bill Simplified

UPDATE: Many of you will find my presentation on the ARRA EMR Simulus money of interest.

Today, “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” was signed by Obama. In this bill, $59 billion was allocated for health care with approximately $20 billion designated for EHR adoption. Of course, any doctor interested in EHR wants to know how they can get their piece of the $20 billion.

The bill was just published and can be read in it’s entirety online. I’d suggest part 2 of 5 for the health care portion of the Stimulus Bill. However, it’s not light reading so I’ll leave that to someone braver than I. It does seem like much of the bill remains intact from what was written about previously by Patricia King on NetDoc. Here’s my short layman’s summary (I’ll update this page as points are clarified):

The government is not just going to cut you a check. Instead the $17 billion will be incentives paid as increased Medicare and Medicaid payments. Incentives will start in 2011 and be paid over 5 year for a physician who can show “meaningful use” of an EHR system (we’ll be hearing about this meaningful EHR use a lot more in the future).

Physicians who do not show “meaningful use” will be penalized in the form of declining Medicare payments. Hospital physicians won’t be affected.

Those wanting the stimulus money will also have to be using a “certified EHR.” Both the terms “certified EHR” and “meaningful use” are still yet to be defined by the government.

The maximum a provider can receive is $41-$44k over the 5 years and paid in lump sum or payments as determined by HHS.

That’s the basics of the EMR stimulus package. I’ll follow up this post tomorrow with a look at what it takes to show “meaningful use” of an EHR and some thoughts on what effect this stimulus package will have on EHR adoption.

Editors Note: Please let me know if changes were made in the final bill so that I can update them on this page. Thanks.