The Low-Down on Future Meaningful Use Penalties — Meaningful Use Monday

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money. Check out Lynn’s previous Meaningful Use Monday posts.

Meaningful Use penalties—or to use the politically correct word, “adjustments”—are scheduled to begin in 2015 for providers who are not meaningful users of certified EHR technology by 2014. There’s something about the prospect of incurring a revenue reduction that seems to evoke a visceral response among providers—even among those who do not find the potential incentive money motivating.

Here’s what you need to know about the penalties:

1) Penalties apply to Medicare only.
- Adjustments will be applied as a percent of Medicare Part B Professional Fee Schedule Charges.
- They are scheduled to begin in 2015, and continue as follows:
2015: 1%
2016: 2%
2017: 3%
2018 and 2019: may increase 1%/year, at the discretion of the Secretary of HHS.

2) There has been speculation by some industry pundits that the penalties will be delayed or not implemented at all, but to rely upon that as a given would be a mistake.

3) There are no penalties associated with the Medicaid program—adjustments do not apply to Medicaid revenue. Pursuing the EHR incentives as a Medicaid provider, however, does not totally insulate a physician from the penalties. If a Medicaid provider does not become a meaningful user by 2014, the revenue he/she generates under Medicare would be subject to the adjustments above.