Colorado Medicaid Issues First EHR Incentive Payments Totaling More Than $1.5 Million

Date: May 9th, 2012Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: Meaningful Use, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Colorado Reaches Milestone Toward Goal of Statewide Adoption of EHRs; Over 130 Health Care Professionals Have Attested for Medicaid EHR Incentive Program

Earlier this week, the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) began issuing the first payments to eligible health care professionals for implementing electronic health records (EHRs) as part of the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. Payments totaling over $1.5 million have been sent to Colorado providers to date.

Solo Pediatric Practice Among First to Receive Incentive Payments

The Children’s Health Place, a solo pediatric practice in Greeley, has the honor of being one of the first private practices in the state to receive a Medicaid incentive payment. With over 50 percent of the practice’s patient volume covered by Medicaid, the EHR incentives are especially important to help offset the financial costs of an EHR system.

“With a practice as small as mine, every little bit helps to support the cost of the software and the time lost spent being trained on how to use it,” said Dr. Orest Dubynsky at the Children’s Health Place. Since Medicaid provides one of the lowest reimbursement rates of any insurance, physicians with higher levels of Medicaid patients can face financial hardships, especially when it comes to adopting HIT.

Dr. Dubynsky was very grateful for the support of Ellen Batchelor, project manager at the Colorado Foundation for Medical Care (CFMC), as she was instrumental in helping him to successfully complete the attestation process.  CFMC is part of the Colorado Regional Extension Center (CO-REC), which is providing no-cost services to help small primary care providers adopt EHRs.

Rural Hospital Receives EHR Incentive Payment

One of the first hospitals in Colorado to qualify for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program is Sterling Regional MedCenter. The Banner Health facility is located in northeast Colorado and has over 230 physicians on staff.

“Being part of Banner Health has been a tremendous benefit in the successful implementation of our inpatient and ambulatory EHR systems, especially in achieving meaningful use criteria for the incentive payments,” said Sterling Regional MedCenter’s Chief Financial Officer Pam Stieb. “Given the cost to the organization of implementing and maintaining an EHR system, the incentive payment will help to off-set some of that cost.  More importantly, the successful implementation and use of our EHR demonstrates our continued commitment to ensuring that our patients receive the safest, highest quality care.”

Medicaid EHR Incentive Program Details

During the first year of the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program, eligible professionals (including critical access hospitals) can receive up to $21,250 for adopting, implementing or upgrading to a certified EHR system. Health care professionals must meet certain criteria to participate in the program, including minimum Medicaid patient volume thresholds. For instance, eligible professionals must meet 30 percent minimum Medicaid patient volume thresholds and for pediatricians, the minimum threshold is 20 percent with reduced incentive payments.

After their first year, eligible professionals will have to demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology in ways that can be measured significantly in both quality and in quantity. Those eligible can earn up to $63,750 over six years.

Thus far, over 130 eligible professionals and hospitals in Colorado have submitted attestation for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. In order to receive an incentive payment for 2011, eligible professionals must register and attest by February 28, 2013.

The Road to Widespread EHR Adoption

According to the most recent results from the National Center for Health Statistics Survey of IT adoption in physician practices, nearly one-third of Colorado office-based physicians have at least a "basic" EHR in their practices. With the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program in place, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services hopes more providers will adopt EHRs.

“The Medicaid EHR Incentive Program plays a key role in supporting widespread health IT adoption in Colorado,” said Medicaid EHR Incentive Program Coordinator Betsy Baker. “By providing an incentive to Medicaid health care professionals for implementing and meaningfully using EHRs, we are reaching a critical tipping point in which we hope all providers will find the need to go electronic.” There are currently over 8,000 Medicaid health care professionals in Colorado.

HCPF has partnered with CORHIO and the Colorado Regional Extension Center (CO-REC) program to provide program coordination and assist with provider communications and outreach regarding the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. For information on attestation requirements, including workbooks, checklists and Help Desk information, please visit the Colorado Registration & Attestation System Colorado Provider Outreach Page. For additional questions about the program, please contact Betsy Baker at or 720-285-3232.