Jessica Shenfeld, Esq. is the founding partner at The Law Office of Jessica Shenfeld, a boutique law firm that caters to physicians’ legal needs. She is also CEO of EHR Incentive Help, Inc., which helps physicians satisfy the Meaningful Use criteria and apply for the Medicare/Medicaid EHR Incentive benefits. For more information, visit www.jessicashenfeld.com.
A reader of this blog, a physician who worked throughout 2011 in one practice, dissolved her practice in November 2011, and immediately opened a new practice with a new Group NPI (National Provider Identifier) number the same month, November 2011. She now wants to qualify for the Medicaid EHR Incentive in 2012, but was told that she cannot do so using data from 2011 because the new practice only has two qualifying months in 2011 (November and December) and the first practice’s data is mute because it was dissolved. The issues boil down to two questions:
1) Can a closed practice’s data be used during Attestation or is the date mute?
2) Can an individual physician use patients from two different practices to satisfy the Medicaid Patient Volume requirement?
The technical answer to the first question is not straightforward – it depends on what your state says. While Medicaid is a federal program, each state is responsible for administering it and each state makes its own rules for eligibility that vary slightly. The threshold issue here is whether the applicant qualifies an Eligible Professional (“EP). Once the applicant is accepted as an EP, the state has vetted his/her eligibility and that EP’s patient data from the last calendar year can be used during Attestation. In New York, the provider described above would qualify as an Eligible Professional since continues to accept Medicaid patients. However, the final decision as to whether an individual qualifies as an EP is up to each state to decide. EP Eligibility is determined when Registration for the EHR Incentive is submitted. I recommend e-mailing your individual state representative for that answer, or just submitting the Registration and seeing whether it is accepted. Upon Registration, the physician is notified whether he or she was deemed an EP.
The answer to the second question – whether an individual physician can use patients from two different practices to satisfy the Medicaid Patient Volume requirement – is no. A provider cannot attest using two group NPI numbers. The Medicaid Patient Volume requirement imposes a threshold of 30%, calculated using a ratio where the numerator is the total number of Medicaid patient encounters over a continuous 90-day period in the most recent calendar year and the denominator is all the patient encounters over that same 90-day period. Luckily, all is not lost. Although in this case the provider cannot attest using the group’s aggregate patient volume, she has the option of attesting using her individual provider’s patient volume. When reporting on her individual data, the 90-day period can consist of 90 days from the first practice, or 90 days that span across both practices if there was no break in time between the two practices.
One final point – even if a provider applying for the Medicaid EHR Incentive is not deemed an EP in 2012, that provider can delay Registration to as late as 2016 without incurring any reduction in the incentive payment. Conversely, applicants for the Medicare EHR Incentive payment must attest by 2013 using data from a 90-day period in 2012 in order to receive the full benefit.