OIG criticizes HHS oversight of Medicare EHR incentive payments

AHA News Now

The Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General yesterday recommended that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services strengthen oversight of Medicare incentive payments for meaningful use of electronic health records. Specifically, OIG said CMS should conduct pre-payment review of documentation from selected "high risk" professionals and hospitals to verify the accuracy of their self-reported information. In comments in the report, CMS disagreed, stating that prepayment reviews would increase the burden on practitioners and hospitals and could delay incentive payments. Linda Fishman, AHA senior vice president of public policy analysis and development, concurs. "The OIG report contains no evidence of improper payments," Fishman said. "Hospitals take seriously their obligations to provide accurate reports to Medicare, and are working diligently to comply with the highly complex regulatory requirements in the meaningful use program. In addition, CMS is currently conducting audits of hospitals that have received meaningful use payments." The report reviews CMS oversight of self-reported meaningful use of certified EHR technology in 2011, before CMS began its audit program. OIG also recommended that CMS provide better guidance on documentation to support compliance and made recommendations to the Office of the National Coordinator to improve the meaningful use reports generated by certified EHRs to better document compliance.

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