Through November 2011, Medicare and Medicaid have each paid nearly $1 billion in electronic health records meaningful use incentive payments during the first year of the program.

Medicare has paid $920.3 million and Medicaid has chipped in an estimated $916 million, according to figures from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services presented Dec. 7 to the HIT Policy Committee.

Medicare meaningful use payments have gone to 10,155 eligible professionals, 34 Medicare-only hospitals, and 377 Medicare and Medicaid hospitals. Medicaid meaningful use payments have gone to 11,270 eligible professionals and 800 hospitals.

After a start to the meaningful use programs that was slower than CMS anticipated, incentive payments took off in September for hospitals and in October for eligible providers, says Robert Anthony, a health insurance specialist in CMS' Office of E-Health Standards and Services. And with eligible providers having until Feb. 29, 2012, to attest to 2011 meaningful use, "we think we'll see a real influx of people coming in," he told the policy committee.

For more information about how the meaningful use program is progressing, click here.

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