“Meaningful Use” Meaningful Error: HHS OIG Finds over $11 Million in Incorrect EHR Incentive Payments
By Ronny Valdes
On September 22, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS OIG) released a report finding that Washington State made incorrect Medicaid incentive payments for the “meaningful use” of electronic health records (EHR). The incentive payment structure was created by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) in 2009. This program allowed incentive payments to hospitals and physicians that attest to the “meaningful use” of EHR. To receive incentive payments, entities must meet federal program requirements by self-reporting necessary data using the CMS National Level Repository.
The HHS OIG report found that Washington State made $11,315,824 in incorrect EHR incentive payments to hospitals. The HHS OIG reviewed payments made to twenty hospitals and found that nineteen of the payments were done incorrectly. The crux of the issue was that the hospitals were not eligible for the payments they received because the supporting documentation, which the state failed to review, did not meet federal requirements for “meaningful use” of EHR.
This is not the first time HHS OIG has issued reports finding that states made incorrect incentive payments for “meaningful use” of EHR. Appendix A of the report lists eight other states that made incorrect payments. Hospitals cannot be eligible for the payments if the calculations are performed incorrectly by the states and “meaningful use” is not proven.