Article Review: Government to Scrutinize HITECH Payments

A federal government watchdog group plans to scrutinize whether any Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act electronic health record incentive payments have been inappropriately issued and to review HIPAA compliance enforcement efforts. HITECH is a federal law that requires data breach notice of unauthorized use or disclosure of unencrypted personal health information.
The Office of the Inspector General in the Department of Health and Human Services revealed the planned reviews in its fiscal 2013 work plan that was released in October. In scrutinizing the HITECH program, OIG will closely examine safeguard in place at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ to prevent erroneous incentive payments. “We will review Medicare incentive payment data from 2011 to identify payments to providers that should not have received incentive payments – for example, those not meeting selected meaningful use criteria,” the work plan states. “We will also assess CMS’s plans to oversee incentive payments for the duration of the program and actions taken to remedy erroneous incentive payments.”
In recent weeks, a group of eight Republican legislators have criticized the HITECH incentive program. For example, they questioned whether HITECH Stage 2 requirements for interoperability and data exchange are too weak and whether electronic health records are being used by providers to tender fraudulent bills.
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