The Healthcare Stimulus Package: Navigating the Buzz
by Michael Failla, D.C.
There has been a great deal of buzz lately about the government’s healthcare stimulus package. And, as Doctors of Chiropractic, the plan is of great interest…as well as great confusion. The promising news is that this package could potentially provide reimbursement payments to qualifying chiropractors of up to $44,000 over the next six years.
We do know that providers mustUse a system which fulfills these
Requirements before the year 2013
As there has been much talk of the stimulus plan, there has also been much misinformation and speculation. So let’s take this time to set the record straight. Why do we say that clinics could potentially qualify for this stimulus package? And just how sure can we be that this stimulus package will apply to chiropractors after the measure is signed and sealed? Well, there are still some undefined areas and loose terms to be tightened up.
We do know that providers must use a system which fulfills these requirements before the year 2013 to receive the full incentive payout, and penalties for not adopting a qualified EHR (electronic health record) system will start taking effect after 2015, including a 1-3% cut in Medicare payouts.
The stimulus plan
also requires a “meaningful use” of a “certified EHR system.” This verbiage is subject to a wide range of interpretation and, therefore, the implications are still pending
We also know that, in order to be eligible for participation, clinics must submit over $24,000 for the year 2011 in Medicare Part B claims under a certain set of chiropractic treatments. These treatments are narrowed to include only the treatment of spinal subluxations. These treatments must be submitted using the AT (Active Treatment) modifier to ensure that they fall under the umbrella of medical necessity.
The stimulus plan also requires a “meaningful use” of a “certified EHR system.” This verbiage is subject to a wide range of interpretation and, therefore, the implications are still pending:
• Meaningful use will require the record-keeping and distribution of prescription medications, interoperability with other certified EHR systems, electronic exchange of medical records, and the provider’s submission of clinical quality measures. The specifics of these requirements have not been decided upon in any clear form, and so we will have to rely on future clarification to understand the extent of this term.
• A certified system will most definitely require the software system to be reviewed and accepted by a formal certification panel, surely either the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT®) or the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST®).
The Secretary of Health and Human Services has a deadline of December 31st, 2009, to solidify a set of standards for meaningful use and EHR certification. It looks as though we may have to wait patiently until then to learn the full requirements for participation in the stimulus package.
So why buy an EHR system now?
If you research and make an educated decision about your EHR system now, while you have the time, you can ensure a boundless return on your investment before a mandated switch causes you to scramble for a system that may not meet the specific needs of your office. Selecting the right software for your practice is an important decision, and not one to make hastily when penalties for non-compliance are creeping up behind you, and you’ve missed your chance at a sizable stimulus payout.
Choose your EHR system carefully, and go with a progressive company that has its finger on the pulse of American healthcare. Select a company that is informed, responsive, and dedicated to keeping on top of the latest information. If you take the time now to choose wisely, your investment will be in place and ready to carry you effortlessly through the inevitable changes that are hovering on the horizon.
Dr. Michael Failla is the President and Co-owner of Integrated Practice Solutions, the makers of ChiroTouch. Dr. Failla graduated from Life University College of Chiropractic in Atlanta, Georgia and went on to run a highly successful chiropractic office in Seattle, Washington for 25 years. Dr. Failla sold his practice in 2007 and continues to promote health and wellness by helping chiropractors run streamlined and successful practices with more time for their patients and less time with their paperwork.