The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. stands to get $1.4 million within a month as incentive payment for its electronic health record project after it received drawdown approval over the weekend.
Corporation CEO Juan N. Babauta confirmed with Saipan Tribune yesterday that he received the notice of approval from University of Hawaii's specialist Norman Okamura, Ph.D., who relayed the latest announcement from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Okamura's email to corporation officials on Saturday indicate that the “CNMI is now cleared for the EHR incentive payment” and the next step for the NMI State Medicaid Agency is to do the appropriate drawdown while the corporation is reminded to prepare for the audit as described in the approval letter from CMMS.
Babauta said the corporation will be able to drawdown the $1.4 million within a month. The amount represents the first year's incentive. An estimated $300,000 to $400,000 will be issued to the corporation in the second year, based on CHCC calculations.
Babauta recognized and praised the hard work of Okamura and Commonwealth Health Care staff headed by COO Esther Muña. He described the success of the project as a collective effort.
Babauta said the second increment of the incentive payment is set for drawdown within 12 months, depending on the evaluation of the meaningful use of the electronic health record system.
The corporation borrowed $4.58 million last year from the Marianas Public Land Trust, of which $1.5 million was used for the electronic health record project. Babauta told Saipan Tribune that the corporation can now pay back the loan for the project.
The local Medicaid Office earlier announced that the Commonwealth is the first area in the Pacific to avail of the electronic health record incentive program, which provides important motivation and financial support for eligible providers.
The Medicaid EHR Incentive Program was created under the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, a federal law that authorized Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record incentive payments.
The CNMI Medicaid Program worked with other health information technology stakeholders in the Commonwealth to develop the CNMI State Medicaid HIT Plan that was approved by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as one of the prerequisites for launching the EHR Incentive Program.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services encourages the use of electronic health record systems by providers and health agencies to plan, implement, and sustainably maintain a secure health information exchange capability connected to the National Health Information Network. The plan builds on the capacity of local and regional exchange efforts.