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HITECH Act of 2009

 What is HITECH?
On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law a $789 billion dollar economic stimulus package, formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA. Included in ARRA legislation is the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, also known as HITECH. HITECH allocates $19 billion to hospitals and physicians who demonstrate “meaningful use” of electronic medical records.

HITECH also provides funds for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT). Originally founded in 2004, this office oversees health information technology (HIT) standards, implementation strategies and impact assessment. ONCHIT has set goals for “the utilization of an electronic health record for each person in the United States by 2014” and the development of a nationwide health information technology infrastructure that allows for the electronic use and exchange of information.”

 What does HITECH mean to you?
Under HITECH, physicians can qualify for up to $44,000 in Medicare bonus incentives if they demonstrate “meaningful use” of an Electronic Health Record. The definition of “meaningful use” is still being worked out by ONCHIT but will likely include e-prescribing, chart sharing and quality of care measurements.

The charts below show the timeline for Medicare and Medicaid bonus payouts under HITECH. As shown in the first table, a physician who can demonstrate “meaningful use” of an EMR in 2011 would be eligible to receive $18,000 from Medicare for the first year and $44,000 total through 2015. Incentives are reduced for adoption after 2012. Physicians whose practices feature a high volume of Medicaid patients can qualify for up to $65,000 in incentives.

Beginning in 2015, physicians who elect not to use an EHR will be penalized, starting with a 1% Medicare fee reduction. Those who do not adopt an EHR after 2017 will face a 3% Medicare fee reduction.

 Medicare HITECH Incentive Timeline


 Medicaid HITECH Incentive Timeline

Year of "Meaningful Use"








HITECH incentive  $    18,000  $   12,000  $    8,000  $    4,000  $    2,000    $     44,000
     $   18,000  $   12,000  $    8,000  $    4,000  $    2,000  $     44,000
       $   15,000  $   12,000  $    8,000  $    4,000  $     39,000
         $   15,000  $    8,000  $    8,000  $     31,000

Year of "Meaningful Use" 

 HITECH Incentive 

2011  $    25,000            
2012  $    10,000  $   25,000          
2013  $    10,000  $   10,000  $   25,000        
2014  $    10,000  $   10,000  $   10,000  $   25,000      
2015  $    10,000  $   10,000  $   10,000  $   10,000  $   25,000    1% penalty 
2016    $   10,000  $   10,000  $   10,000  $   10,000  $   25,000  2% penalty 
2017      $   10,000  $   10,000  $   10,000  $   10,000  3% penalty 
2018        $   10,000  $   10,000  $   10,000  
2019          $   10,000  $   10,000  
2020            $   10,000  


 $   65,000  $65,000  $65,000  $65,000  $65,000  $65,000  

 e-Prescribe Bonus

Year of adoption Bonus Penalty
2009 2.0%  
2010 2.0%  
2011 1.0% -0.5%
2012 0.5% -1.0%
2013   -2.0%

 Who Qualifies for HITECH?
The HITECH Act specifies that physicians can qualify for $44,000 or more in economic stimulus incentives for adopting an EHR. What does this exactly mean? Does your practice qualify? Here are a few answers concerning HITECH incentives from ARRA HITECH Solutions:

Are HITECH incentives per physician or per office?
HITECH incentives are paid on a per provider basis. For example, a practice with two physicians and a nurse practitioner using an EHR could qualify for $132,000 in Medicare incentives.

 What types of health care providers can qualify for HITECH incentives?
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (
ARRA – start on page 114) details that the following all qualify for HITECH incentives:

Skilled nursing facilities
Nursing facilities
Home health entities
Long term care facilities
Health care clinics
Community mental health centers
Renal dialysis facilities
Blood centers
Ambulatory surgical centers
Emergency medical service providers

Federally qualified health centers (FQHC)
Group practices
Physicians (See below)
Practitioners (See below)
Indian Health Service providers
Rural health clinics


 What types of physicians qualify for HITECH incentives?
The following types of practices can all qualify for $44,000 or more in HITECH stimulus incentives according to the definitions in the
Social Security Act, section 1861(r):

  • Doctor of Medicine or Osteopathy – M.D. or D.O.
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery or Medicine – D.D.S or D.D.M
  • Doctor of Podiatric Medicine – D.P.M.
  • Doctor of Optometry – O.D.
  • Chiropractor – D.C. 




 What types of medical practitioners are included in HITECH?
In addition to the list above, ARRA references “providers as defined in the
Social Security Act, section 1842” as qualifying for HITECH incentives. This includes:

  • A physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or clinical nurse specialist
  • A certified registered nurse anesthetist
  • A certified nurse-midwife
  • A clinical social worker
  • A clinical psychologist
  • A registered dietitian or nutrition professional 




 What types of medical practices do not qualify for HITECH incentives?
The following types of practices do not qualify for incentives based on our current understanding of the program:

  • Free clinics that don’t bill Medicare or Medicaid
  • Physical therapists
  • Hospital-based physicians such as pathologists, anesthesiologists or emergency physicians
  • Acupuncturists and other holistic providers
  • Any practice not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid payments 




 Which geographic areas qualify for HITECH incentives?
ARRA specifies the following regions and territories as qualifying for HITECH incentives:

  • All 50 US states
  • The District of Columbia
  • Puerto Rico
  • The Virgin Islands
  • Guam
  • American Samoa
  • The Northern Mariana Islands 





 What is ONCHIT?

ONCHIT, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, was founded in 2004 as part of the Department of Health and Human Services, and received a massive boost in funding under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009. The office has been tasked with coordinating the implementation and use of health information technology under HITECH.

 What does ONCHIT mean to you?

ONCHIT will set the definition for “meaningful use” of electronic health record programs before December, 31, 2009. Proof of “meaningful use” is required for practices and providers to receive $44,000 or more in incentives for using an electronic health record system. 

HITECH Policy Information:
Learn more about the HITECH Act, Learn more about ONCHIT,
Follow the conversation about “meaningful use” on Twitter

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