Money Matters - Simplified

Final rules for healthcare IT funding set

Washington -- The U.S. government has issued its final rules on regulations professionals and hospitals must follow to access $27.3 billion in funding for record keeping.

The money was allocated from the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act for developing and implementing electronic health record technology, the American Business Journals reported Tuesday. The act makes available between $44,000 and $63,750 available to individual health professionals from Medicare and Medicaid, and makes millions available for eligible hospitals, officials said.

"We very much wanted well-intended providers to become meaningful users," David Blumenthal, national coordinator for Health Information Technology, said during a webcast Tuesday.

A major change adopted from the comment period was making the regulations more flexible, Blumenthal said. The regulations originally said qualifying objectives for meaningful use were "all or nothing," but were changed to requiring hospitals and professionals to meet a core set of 14 or 15 objectives, respectively, and choosing five objectives from a menu of 10, the business publication said.

Blumenthal also said the final regulations require a lower percentage of prescriptions -- 40 percent instead of 75 percent -- to be filled electronically, another move that would make it easier for hospitals and professionals to qualify for financing.

"We thought that was reasonable to ask of the average physician and the average provider," Blumenthal said. "We expect later on that the proportion of prescriptions provided electronically will continue to increase in future stages of meaningful use."

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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