Stimulus Package (ARRA 2009)

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The Act aims to stimulate the economy through investments in infrastructure, unemployment benefits, transportation, education, and health care. Included in the $787 billion ARRA is approximately $20 billion in funding to incentive healthcare organizations and physicians to adopt and effectively use electronic health records (EHR) and establish regional health information exchange networks.
This is a huge opportunity for physicians to reap the benefits that EHR's can have on improving the quality, safety, and efficiency of health care, along with the cost savings. There are two programs for physicians: one for those that see large volumes of Medicaid patients, and another for those that accept Medicare. In order to qualify for the incentive payments, both physicians and healthcare organizations must demonstrate three things:

  1. Use of certified EHR with ePrescribing capability

  2. Connectivity to other providers; and

  3. Ability to report on their EHR use to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

With the goal of rapid adoption, all of the incentives include payments for up to five years, but the program is largely front loaded - meaning the largest payments are provided early, and late adopters will receive lower payments. The incentive payments begin in 2011, giving physicians time to adopt and learn to effectively use their EHR before the payment reduction begins in 2015.

Potential Reimbursement per Year
Year of Filing 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Total
2011 $18,000 $12,000 $8,000 $4,000 $2,000 $0 $44,000
2012 $0 $18,000 $12,000 $8,000 $4,000 $2,000 $44,000
2013 $0 $0 $15,000 $12,000 $8,000 $4,000 $39,000
2014 $0 $0 $0 $12,000 $8,000 $4,000 $24,000
2015 or Later $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0

Are there financial benefits available now, even before incentive money becomes available? Section 179 of the IRS tax code has been updated for 2012.
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