The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) began registration for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) incentive programs. Registration is also available for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program for the following states: Alaska, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. In February 2011, registration will open in California, Missouri and North Dakota. Other states likely will launch their Medicaid EHR incentive programs during the spring and summer of 2011. Registration is a prerequisite to any eventual receipt of incentive payments.

Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act), Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments will be available to eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals when they adopt certified EHR technology and successfully demonstrate "meaningful use" of the technology. Professionals who meet the eligibility requirements for both the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs must select which program they wish to participate in when they register. They cannot participate in both programs; however, after receiving payment, they may change their program selection once before 2015. Hospitals that are eligible for both programs can receive payments from both Medicare and Medicaid.

CMS announced the following key dates for the Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs' first year:

  • January 3, 2011 – Registration for the Medicare EHR incentive program begins.  
  • January 3, 2011 – States that are ready may launch their incentive programs for Medicaid providers.  
  • January 2011 – Some state agencies begin issuing Medicaid EHR incentive payments.  
  • April 2011 – Attestation for the Medicare EHR incentive program begins.  
  • May 2011 – Issuing of Medicare EHR incentive payments expected to begin.  
  • July 3, 2011 – Last day for eligible hospitals to begin their 90-day reporting period to demonstrate meaningful use for the Medicare EHR incentive program for federal FY 2011.  
  • September 30, 2011 – Federal FY 2011 payment year ends at midnight for eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs).  
  • October 3, 2011 – Last day for eligible professionals to begin their 90-day reporting period for calendar year 2011 to demonstrate meaningful use for the Medicare EHR incentive program.  
  • November 30, 2011 – Last day for eligible hospitals and CAHs to register and attest to receive an incentive payment for federal fiscal year 2011.  
  • December 31, 2011 – Calendar 2011 payment year ends for eligible professionals.

For more information about the program and registration, please click here and here.