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AHRQ looks to help Medicaid providers receive incentives

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has proposed a two-year project targeting the barriers Medicaid providers face in meeting meaningful use requirements in order to receive federal incentives.

The project, which will be conducted by AHRQ through its contractor, RTI International, has three goals:

  1. Develop technical assistance and support implementation and use of electronic health records for Medicaid providers in order to meet meaningful use requirements and incentives;
  2. Improve care for the Medicaid population; and
  3. Help determine criteria for Stage 2 and 3 of meaningful use.

The notice of the new program, which was published in the Federal Register, will be available for comments until March 21.

The Medicaid EHR Incentive Program provides incentive payments to eligible professionals, hospitals and critical access hospitals for demonstrating meaningful use of certified EHR technology. Professionals can receive up to $63,750 over the six years that they choose to participate in the program.

According to the CMS, to qualify for an incentive payment under the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program, an EP must have a minimum 30 percent Medicaid patient volume, (20 percent for pediatricians) or practice predominantly in a Federally Qualified Health Center or Rural Health Center and have a minimum 30 percent patient volume attributable to needy individuals.

Eligible participants for the AHRQ project will be determined by a questionnaire and will include almost 400 EPs.

According to the notice, the project will consist of "nine focus groups and will include 6-11 EPs per group, containing a mix of pediatricians, other physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives. Focus groups with community health center and rural health center-based providers will also include physician assistants and administrators."

"Four of the focus groups will include providers in private practice (excluding dentists), an additional four will include providers working in CHCs or RHCs, and the final group will be comprised of private practice dentists," the notice readsd. "Private practice dentists are being considered separately due to the fact that their practice patterns are likely to vary substantially from those of primary care physicians and non-physician providers."

The estimated annualized cost burden associated with the respondents' time to participate in this research is $15,902, according to the notice. The estimated total and annualized cost to the government for conducting this research is estimated to be $424,493.