Health Center Federal Policy, Uncategorized

House Passes Health Center Technical Fix on HIT Incentives as Final Rule is Issued

by Alex Sange, MPP

This week, the House introduced and passed HR 5712, the Veterans’, Seniors’, and Children’s Health Technical Corrections Act.  This bill, sponsored by Congressmen Levin, Waxman, Dingell, Pallone and Stark, included a technical correction of the Medicaid HIT incentive payments in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act which will be helpful to health centers.  HR 5712 now joins the number of other bills (their war supplemental spending bill, an unemployment benefit extension and five-year extension of the National Flood Insurance Program, to name a few) that the House has passed and sent to the Senate for consideration and final passage.

This House-passed provision would ensure that federal health center grants for health information technology (HIT) do not reduce Medicaid HIT Incentive Payments made to health center providers.  As written in ARRA and passed into law, providers’ incentive payments will be reduced by any amount of other funds the provider is receiving from other sources for HIT… except state and local government sources.  As we mentioned in our comments to CMS on their proposed rule, this could mean that federal grants awarded to a health center for HIT will result in lower Medicaid HIT Incentive Payments to providers at that health center.  The bill (HR 5712) includes a provision that adds federal grants to the list of exclusions, ensuring that incentive payments will not be reduced if a health center is receiving Federal grant funding for Electronic Health Records or other HIT.

This technical fix is useful for health centers and we appreciate the ongoing efforts of the Chairmen and Committees of jurisdiction.  Coincidentally, CMS issued their final rule on Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentives (including the Medicaid HIT Incentive Payments) this week as well, which outlines all of the requirements that eligible professionals will have to meet to receive incentive payments for the adoption, implementation and upgrading of EHR.  Read our alert on the final rule and stay tuned to our website and this blog for more information on the regulatory and legislative fronts on these critically important Medicaid HIT Incentive Payments.