Medicaid agency tells states how they can get federal HIT funding

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Tuesday sent state Medicaid directors a 19-page letter telling them what they need to do to get federal funds for investments in health information technology.

Under last year's recovery act, the federal government agreed to pay 90 percent of states' administrative expenses incurred while trying to persuade Medicaid providers to adopt electronic health records. The letter provides detailed guidance to the states in addition to final regulations issued late last month.

"At a minimum," the letter says, states must "demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Secretary compliance with three requirements:

  • Administration of Medicaid incentive payments to Medicaid (eligible professionals) and eligible hospitals;
  • Oversight of the Medicaid EHR (electronic health records) Incentive Program, including routine tracking of meaningful use attestations and reporting mechanisms; and 
  • Pursuit of initiatives that encourage the adoption of certified EHR technology for the promotion of health care quality and the electronic exchange of health information."