Hospitals that participate in the Medicare portion of the federal electronic health record (EHR) incentive payment program could lose thousands of dollars in payments as a result of the 2 percent cut to Medicare reimbursements under sequestration.

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments. Most hospitals participate in both the Medicare and Medicaid portions of the incentive payment program. However, a CMS report lists 181 hospitals that participate only in the Medicare part of the program and have received an average of $1.87 million each in incentive payments.

These hospitals stand to lose about $37,500 in payments as a result of the 2 percent cut to Medicare reimbursements. Meanwhile, the top incentive payment for physicians and other eligible professionals participating in the Medicare portion of the meaningful use program is $18,000, which means they would lose $360.

Medicaid EHR incentive payments is exempt.

However, the sequester’s across-the-board spending cuts will not affect the Internal Revenue Service’s ability to collect new taxes and fees created under the Affordable Care Act. Neither the IRS nor Department of Treasury officials have commented on how the sequester cuts will affect ACA implementation, however, Chris Condeluci, a former tax counsel for Senate Finance Committee, said, “Their silence with regard to the sequester indicates that they won’t let anything get in the way of implementation, sequestration or otherwise.”