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January 2010 St@teside

"Meaningful Use" for the Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Program Becomes More Clearly Defined

On December 30, 2009, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule which defines the central concept of “meaningful use” of electronic health record (EHR) technology.  More broadly, the proposed rule also outlines other proposed provisions governing the EHR incentives program which was enacted under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act).  The Medicaid EHR incentive program provides incentive payments to eligible professionals and hospitals for efforts to adopt, implement, or upgrade certified EHR technology, or for meaningful use in the first year, and for meaningful use for up to another five years.  Thirteen states have already received approval for a federal match to support administrative planning activities (see next article).

As part of the Recovery Act, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act designated CMS to play a role in the following three areas:

  • Implementation of the EHR incentive programs, including defining meaningful use of certified EHR technology;
  • Establishment of standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria for EHR technology; and
  • Privacy and security protections under the HITECH Act.

For more detailed information about each of these areas, refer to this CMS Web page.

According to CMS, “the proposed rule from CMS would define the term ‘meaningful EHR user’ as an eligible professional or eligible hospital that, during the specified reporting period, demonstrates meaningful use of certified EHR technology in a form and manner consistent with certain objectives and measures presented in the regulation.  These objectives and measures would include use of certified EHR technology in a manner that improves quality, safety, and efficiency of health care delivery, reduces health care disparities, engages patients and families, improves care coordination, improves population and public health, and ensures adequate privacy and security protections for personal health information.”[1]

Also on December 30, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) issued an interim final regulation (IFR) which sets initial standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria for EHR technology.  CMS and ONC worked closely to develop both rules and received input from technical subject matter experts, health care providers and other key stakeholders.  Both regulations are open to public comment.

For more information on this topic and to review the proposed rule, please see this news release from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).


CMS Information Related to the Economic Recovery Act of 2009, Health Information Technology, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Accessed on January 27, 2010.

CMS and ONC Issue Regulations Proposing Definition of ‘Meaningful Use’ and Setting Standards for Electronic Health Record Incentive Program, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services news release, December 30, 2009.