NEW BRUNSWICK – Commissioners from the Departments of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and Human Services (DHS) today announced the award of nearly $40 million in federal money to about seventy hospitals and high volume Medicaid providers for the implementation of Electronic Health Records (EHR) technology. The funding comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) HI-TECH law, which is being advanced through New Jersey’s Office of Health Information Technology (HIT).
Electronic Health Records (EHR)
The Commissioners explained that the incentive payments support the state’s Medicaid reform efforts and health care businesses, enabling hospitals and physicians to better coordinate services for the estimated 1.3 million residents enrolled in the entitlement program.
“EHR will support, and to some degree enable, the integration of services proposed in our state’s Comprehensive Medicaid Waiver,” said Commissioner Velez, whose Department administers the state and federally subsidized health insurance programs, Medicaid and NJ FamilyCare. “But, the real value lies in full provider participation. It’s so important that Medicaid providers, who have not registered, do so in order to take advantage of the EHR incentive program.”
To date, 30 hospitals and 40 pediatricians, family physicians, nurse practitioners, health care clinics, and other specialty providers provided attestations to secure the first federal incentive payments. The largest disbursements went to Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson, and Cooper Health Systems with checks totaling nearly $3 million, each. Payments to health professionals ranged from about $14,000 to $21,000.
“This infusion of money will help our hospitals and health care providers increase their investment in HIT and that, in turn, will lead to better quality patient care,” said DHSS Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd. “If all providers treating a patient have access to the same medical record, that will reduce unnecessary tests and medical errors due to potential adverse reactions to multiple medications and mistakes on paper charts.”
Medicaid physicians are eligible for up to $63,750 over six years and hospitals can collect up to $6 million over three years. The EHR technology must be acquired, implemented and used in a meaningful way in order for providers to receive the federal incentive payments. Over the course of the program, about $500 million in federal money is expected to be given to New Jersey Medicaid providers for EHR.
“The days of paper medical records kept in storage or back rooms with overflowing filing cabinets are over,” said New Jersey’s Health Information Technology Coordinator Colleen Woods. “Electronic record keeping will diminish the high cost of diagnostic duplication and help to reduce medical error as a result of outdated, mis-filed or unreadable charts and documents.”
High volume Medicaid providers must register with the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ National Level Repository (NLR) and elect to enroll in the New Jersey Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. More information can be found on the HIT website: www.state.nj.us/njhit/ehr.
Providers that do not meet the Medicaid patient volume necessary to qualify for Medicaid incentive payments may be eligible for incentive funding through the federally-run Medicare EHR Incentive Program. Information on this program is available at https://www.cms.gov/EHRIncentivePrograms/.