The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has issued answers to three frequently asked questions about changes to the Medicaid electronic health records meaningful use incentive program under Stage 2. The changes cover determination of patient volume calculations that are intended to ease eligibility requirements, the types of CHIP patients eligible to be considered in Medicaid patient volume, and changes to the base year for hospital incentive payment calculation. Here are the questions and answers:
Question: The EHR Incentive Programs Stage 1 Rule stated that, in order for a Medicaid encounter to count towards the patient volume of an eligible provider, Medicaid had to either pay for all or part of the service, or pay all or part of the premium, deductible or coinsurance for that encounter. The Stage 2 Rule now states that the Medicaid encounter can be counted towards patient volume if the patient is enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program (either through the state’s fee-for-service programs or the state’s Medicaid managed care programs) at the time of service without the requirement of Medicaid payment liability. How will this change affect patient volume calculations for Medicaid eligible providers?
Answer: Importantly, this change affecting the Medicaid patient volume calculation is applicable to all eligible providers, regardless of the stage of the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program they are participating in. Billable services provided by an eligible provider to a patient enrolled in Medicaid would count toward meeting the minimum Medicaid patient volume thresholds. Examples of Medicaid encounters under this expanded definition that could be newly eligible might include: behavioral health services, HIV/AIDS treatment, or other services that might not be billed to Medicaid/managed care for privacy reasons, but where the provider has a mechanism to verify eligibility. Also, services to a Medicaid-enrolled patient that might not have been reimbursed by Medicaid (or a Medicaid managed care organization) may now be included in the Medicaid patient volume calculation (e.g., oral health services, immunization, vaccination and women’s health services, telemedicine/telehealth, etc.).
Providers who are not currently enrolled with their state Medicaid agency who might be newly eligible for the incentive payments due to these changes should note that they are not necessarily required to fully enroll with Medicaid in order to receive the payment.
In some instances, it may now be appropriate to include services denied by Medicaid in calculating patient volume. It will be appropriate to review denial reasons. If Medicaid denied the service for timely filing or because another payer’s payment exceeded the potential Medicaid payment, it would be appropriate to include that encounter in the calculation. If Medicaid denied payment for the service because the beneficiary has exceeded service limits established by the Medicaid program, it would be appropriate to include that encounter in the calculation. If Medicaid denied the service because the patient was ineligible for Medicaid at the time of service, it would not be appropriate to include that encounter in the calculation.
Further guidance regarding this change will be distributed to the states as appropriate.
Question: The EHR Incentive Programs Stage 2 Rule describes changes to how a state considers CHIP patients in the Medicaid patient volume total when determining provider eligibility. Patients in which CHIP programs are now appropriate to be considered in the Medicaid patient volume total?
Answer: States that have offered CHIP as part of a Medicaid expansion under Title 19 or Title 21 can include those patients in their provider’s Medicaid patient volume calculation as there is cost liability to the Medicaid program in either case (under the Stage 1 Rule, only CHIP programs created under a Medicaid expansion via Title 19 were eligible). Patients in standalone CHIP programs established under Title 21 are not to be considered part of the patient volume total (in Stage 1 or Stage 2). This change to the patient volume calculation is applicable to all eligible providers, regardless of the stage of the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program they are participating in.
Question: Are there any changes in the EHR Incentive Programs Stage 2 Rule to the base year for the Medicaid hospital incentive payment calculation?
Answer: Yes. Previously Medicaid eligible hospitals calculated the base year using a 12 month period ending in the Federal fiscal year before the hospital's fiscal year that serves as the first payment year. In an effort to encourage timely participation in the program, §495.310(g)(1)(i)(B) of the Stage 2 Rule was amended to allow hospitals to use the most recent continuous 12 month period for which data are available prior to the payment year. This change went into effect upon publication of the Stage 2 Rule. Only hospitals that begin participation in the program after the publication date of the Stage 2 Rule (i.e., program years 2013 and later) will be affected by this change. Hospitals that began participation in the program prior to the Stage 2 Rule will not have to adjust previous calculations.
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