- More states will be eligible for federal cost matching for connecting meaningful use providers to other providers, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced earlier this week.
In a letter addressed to all state Medicaid directors, CMS explained that it is widening its scope of which state expenditures are eligible for federal matching for health information exchange (HIE) under the EHR Incentive Programs. The agency has made these changes in the name of health data interoperability, aligning with the goals spelled out in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s Interoperability Roadmap.
“In this letter, we are expanding our interpretation of the scope of State expenditures eligible for the 90 percent HITECH match, given the greater importance of coordination of care across providers and transitions of care in Meaningful Use modified Stage 2 and Stage 3,” wrote Vikki Wachino, director at the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services.
CMS hopes that these changes will encourage more care coordination and exchange of health information.
Prior to this letter, state Medicaid expenditures were eligible for federal matching, but only if “they [could] be directly correlated to the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.” Now, CMS is expanding that provision and saying that so long as a connection between providers help eligible providers meet meaningful use objectives, they may receive federal matching funds.
We now explain that State costs of facilitating connections between Eligible Providers and other Medicaid providers (for example, through an HIE or other interoperable systems), or costs of other activities that promote other Medicaid providers’ use of EHR and HIE, can also be matched at the 90 percent HITECH matching rate, but only if State expenditures on these activities help Eligible Providers meet the Meaningful Use objectives.
For example, states may request 90 percent federal matching funds for eligible providers connecting with other Medicaid providers, including behavioral health, substance abuse treatment, long-term care, and home health providers. They may also request matching funds for connecting with pharmacies, laboratories, correctional health providers, emergency medical services providers, public health providers, and community-based Medicaid providers.
CMS will also support eligible providers exchanging information across state lines, as well as projects aimed at creating seamless EHR interoperability between multiple states.
“CMS explicitly encourages and welcomes multistate collaboratives partnering on shared solutions for HIE and interoperability, including for the activities discussed in this letter,” Wachino wrote. “CMS will aggressively support such collaboratives as potentially cost-saving opportunities to increase adoption of interoperability standards and help Eligible Providers demonstrate Meaningful Use.”
These multi-state interoperability projects should align with Medicaid Information Technology Architecture (MITA) on grounds of scalability, reusability, modularity, and interoperability. ONC is equipped to help guide any such initiatives.
This comes on the heels of another significant CMS announcement. Earlier this week, the agency announced initiatives to expand EHR programs into more care facilities, including long-term care, behavioral health, and substance abuse care facilities.
“The great promise of technology is to bring information to our fingertips, connect us to one another, improve our productivity, and create a platform for the next generation of innovations,” said CMS acting administrator Andy Slavitt and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary and ONC Director Karen DeSalvo. “And technology can make a significant difference in the rapidly modernizing Medicaid program.”
Both programs work toward the overall goal of increasing interoperability across the healthcare space. By matching funds for more HIE programs, and by including more healthcare facilities in EHR use, the healthcare industry will have more information to consult along better connected devices.