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Medicare issuing separate 10% EHR bonuses to HPSA practitioners

June 10, 2012

Health care practitioners who qualified for Medicare Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentives last year while practicing in federally recognized Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) will be getting an additional bonus payment for their participation in the program – that is, if they haven’t received it already, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Medicare practitioners who qualified for EHR incentives during 2011 should have received bonus payments, equaling 75 percent of their total Medicare allowed charged for the year (up to a maximum payment of $18,000), by the end of May, according to the CMS.

Qualifying practitioners in HPSAs were to receive additional 10 percent bonuses, in the form of a separate payment, by April 30.

“Bonus payments for EPs (eligible professionals) who practice predominantly in a geographic Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) will be made as separate lump-sum payments no later than 120 days after the end of the calendar year for which the EP was eligible for the bonus payment,” according to a post on the CMS website.

HPSA practitioners should watch their mail or bank statements to make sure they receive – or have received – both payments, the AOA Advocacy Group advises.

More than 1,400 optometrists have received the full $18,000 EHR bonus and many more optometrists are receiving lesser amounts, according to the AOA Advocacy Group.

The CMS estimates 4,200 eligible professionals have received Medicare EHR HPSA Bonus Payments, totaling an estimated $7 million.

The CMS has not released specific data on the number of optometrists receiving the additional 10 percent HPSA payment.

“Many optometrists practice in health profession shortage areas, and the 10 percent HPSA bonus represents another good reason for them to implement EHRs and take part in the incentive program as soon as possible,” said Philip Gross, O.D., chair of the AOA Health Information Technology Subcommittee. “The additional 10 percent bonus means HPSA practitioners, who enter the EHR Incentive Program during the first two years (2011, 2012) while the maximum bonuses are available, stand to receive payments totaling $19,800.”

AOA members can find additional information on the Medicare EHR Incentive Program on the AOA website EHR page (www.aoa.org/ehr).

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