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Rural Health Resources

Meaningful Use for Critical Access Hospitals and Other Small Hospitals

Meaningful Use for Eligible Hospitals & Critical Access Hospitals

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) of 2009 provides for incentive payments beginning in federal fiscal year (FY) 2011 for eligible hospitals (including eligible small, rural hospitals) and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) that adopt a certified Electronic Health Record (EHR) system and are meaningful users of certified EHR technology. Eligible rural hospitals and CAHs that adopt a certified EHR system and achieve meaningful use can begin receiving EHR incentives in any year from FY 2011 through FY 2015.

For the purposes of the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program, CAHs are treated exactly the same as other eligible hospitals. However, Congress amended the Recovery Act to include special provisions for CAHs under the Medicare EHR Incentive Program. CAHs may only receive Medicare EHR incentive payments through FY 2015. And, in no case shall a CAH receive Medicare EHR incentive payments for more than four years. In contrast, eligible small, rural hospitals can continue to receive Medicare EHR incentive payments through FY 2016.

Learn more about the CMS EHR Incentive Program for Critical Access Hospitals.

The Medicare Electronic Health Record Incentive Program

The Medicare EHR Incentive Program will provide EHR incentives to eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and CAHs that achieve meaningful use of certified EHR technology. Participation can begin as early as 2011. Congress amended the Recovery Act was to include special provisions for CAHs under the Medicare EHR Incentive Program. CAHs may only receive Medicare EHR incentive payments through FY 2015. And, in no case shall a CAH receive Medicare EHR incentive payments for more than four years. CAHs that demonstrate that they are meaningful users of certified EHR technology in FY 2011 or 2012 could receive up to four years of Medicare financial incentive payments. In contract, eligible small, rural hospitals can continue to receive Medicare EHR incentive payments through FY 2016.

For 2015 and later, Medicare eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and CAHs that do not successfully demonstrate meaningful use will experience a negative payment adjustment to their Medicare reimbursement.

Learn more about the CMS EHR Incentive Program for Critical Access Hospitals

The Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Program

The Medicaid EHR incentive program will provide incentive payments to eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and CAHs as they adopt, implement, upgrade, or demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology in their first year of participation and demonstrate meaningful use for up to five remaining participation years. For purposes of the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program only, CAHs are treated exactly like acute care hospitals (e.g., Eligible hospital incentive payments may begin as early as 2011). The last year an eligible hospital may begin the program is 2016. There are no penalty payment adjustments under the Medicaid EHR incentive program.

Learn more about the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program

Meaningful Use Stage 1 Criteria for eligible hospitals/CAHs

Achieving Meaningful Use Stage 1 requires meeting both core and menu objectives. All of the core objectives are required. EPs and hospitals may choose which objectives to meet from the meaningful use menu set.

  • 14 core objectives
  • 5 out of 10 menu set objectives
  • 15 clinical quality measures

To demonstrate Meaningful Use Stage 1 successfully, eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and CAHs are required to report clinical quality measures specific to eligible professionals or eligible hospitals and CAHs. For more information on clinical quality measures, including how to report on them from an EHR, visit the CMS Quality Measures page.

Stage 2 Final Rule Now Available

The final rule for Stage 2 of the EHR Incentive Programs is now available. Learn more about the final rule.

For more information about the final rule, see the following resources: