Physicians who assign their reimbursement and billing to a critical access hospital, known as CAH II or Method II physicians, now are eligible to participate in the electronic health records meaningful use program, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has announced.

The physicians can start with Stage 1 in calendar year 2014 but cannot attest for the first time until January 2014. That’s because CMS must update information systems to capture the physicians’ national provider identifier and line-of-service payment information so that their claims are tied to specific rendered services.

The newly eligible physicians can earn a maximum of $39,000 in meaningful use incentives. Like other eligible physicians, they also now are subject to financial penalties in the form of lower Medicare reimbursements if they fail to become meaningful users by 2015. More information on the meaningful use program is available at

CMS also reminds physicians currently participating in meaningful use that Feb. 28 is the last day to register and attest for a Medicare incentive payment for calendar year 2012. Physicians participating in Medicaid meaningful use should check with their state program for the deadline.

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