Electronic Health Records Incentive Payments

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) authorizes the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to make incentive payments to eligible professionals and hospitals that adopt, implement, upgrade or demonstrate “meaningful use” of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology to improve patient care. The funds for these incentive payments may be administered through the state’s Medicaid agency or directly from CMS via a Medicare contractor.

If the state agency or CMS makes incentive payments of $600 or more to an eligible professional or hospital, they are responsible for reporting such payments to the recipients on a Form 1099-MISC by January 31 of the next year. Therefore, if a state agency or CMS made payments of $600 or more in 2012, they should issue Form 1099-MISC to the recipients by January 31, 2013.
Professionals and hospitals should not consider EHR incentive payments to be reimbursements of expenses incurred in establishing an EHR system; instead, the recipient of the payments should consider the payments to be includible in gross income.

An eligible provider receiving an EHR incentive payment may be required to give the payment to the provider’s practice or group and not be allowed to keep it. In this situation, the eligible provider is not required to include the payment in gross income if the provider (1) is receiving the payment as an agent or conduit of the practice or group, and (2) turns the payment over to the practice or group as required. The state agency or CMS should send the Form 1099-MISC to the provider regardless of whether the funds are assigned or transferred to the provider’s practice group, or retained by the provider. The eligible provider, not the state agency or CMS, would bear the information reporting obligation, if any, for payments made to the provider’s practice group.

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