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Thursday, 19 December 2013 09:39

Meaningful Use and Dentistry Featured

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post 73 picIn February of 2009 the federal government passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) which became known as “The Stimulus”. 

This provided for over $780 billion to be invested in various segments of the U.S. economy. 

One of these segments is healthcare and dentistry can claim a piece of these funds by meeting certain requirements. 

I bring this up today because on December 6th a few changes were made in the timeframes and if you qualify for this money you have been given more time to comply with the criteria.

 

First let’s look at the requirements to qualify. 

The funds are distributed through CMS and the state Medicaid offices.  To qualify 30% of your patient base must be with the Medicare or Medicaid programs. 

Many of our clients are in Oregon and the state Medicaid benefit includes both adult and child dental benefits.  If you can show that over a 3-month period 30% of the patients seen in your practice were Medicaid, you are eligible to apply for ARRA funds. 

A high bar for some practices, but one that dental offices can achieve.  If you complete the 3-stage process you will get $63,750, so well worth the effort.

So, what will you be doing to qualify for this money?  Getting access to a certified Electronic Health Record (EHR) and using it in a meaningful manner (as specified by the government).  Hence the phrase, that you may have heard many times – Meaningful Use.  

The funds are distributed after attesting to three qualifying levels appropriately named stage 1, stage 2 and stage 3.  After meeting the stage 1 requirements a dental practice will receive $21,250.  You then get $8,500 per year over the next five years, as long as you continue advancing through stage 2 and 3. 

Each succeeding stage increases the obligations of the practice but comes with the continued monitory reward.  Here is a handy link to a government site outlining the timing of this program.   

What changed earlier this month?  CMS announced that they were extending the deadline for stage 2 qualifications through 2016 and that stage 3 will not begin until 2017.  If you used the link, above, note that this table has not been updated with this change.  

If you have procrastinated applying for this government program, you have through 2014 to attest to stage 1 qualification.  Then two years (2015 – 2016) to comply with stage 2 and then thru 2021 on stage 3. 

If your practice meets the 30% threshold, talk to your software vendor about getting access to a certified electronic health record.  Many practice system vendors have some program in place and can help you get started with qualifying. 

An extra $63,000 is a right click that will stimulate your economy.

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