EHR incentives estimated to reach $20 billion by 2015
| Zach Urbina
There are no set appropriations for how much the federal government can spend on rewarding providers who adopt and use electronic health records under the Medicare and Medicaid meaningful use EHR incentive program, according to National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari, MD.
“Whoever qualifies, gets paid; there’s no hard cap,” said Mostashari, who gave a keynote at the Annual Policy Summit for the Health Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS) on Wednesday.
Mostashari said the federal government estimates it will pay out around $20 billion in incentives before the program shifts to a penalty in 2015, but there is no fixed budget set in the HITECH Act that mandated the program. The government recently announced it has paid out nearly $7 billion
since the program began in 2011.
The federal health IT czar said he couldn’t imagine health IT advancement – which enjoys widespread bipartisan support – losing the backing of Congress after the election, no matter the party in control.
It would be hard to picture Congress cutting or capping the program after doctors and hospitals have made major investments in health IT “on the good word of Congress,” he said.