In another key step toward developing a robust U.S. health information technology (HIT) infrastructure, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced today that Iowa’s Medicaid program is the first to receive federal matching funds for planning activities necessary to implement the electronic health record (EHR) incentive program established by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act).  Iowa will receive approximately $1.16 million in federal matching funds.
EHRs will improve the quality of health care for Iowans and make care more efficient. The records make it easier for the many providers who may be treating a Medicaid patient to coordinate care.  Additionally, EHRs make it easier for patients to access the information they need to make decisions about their health care.
The Recovery Act also provides a 90 percent federal match for state planning activities to administer the incentive payments to Medicaid providers, to ensure their proper payments through audits and to participate in statewide efforts to promote interoperability and meaningful use of EHR technology statewide and, eventually, across the nation.
“While Iowa is the first state to receive approval of its plan for implementing the Recovery Act’s EHR incentive program, a number of other states have submitted plans as well,” said Cindy Mann, director of the Center for Medicaid and State Operations at CMS. “Meaningful and interoperable use of EHRs in Medicaid will increase health care efficiency, reduce medical errors and improve quality-outcomes and patient satisfaction within and across the states.”
Iowa will use its federal funds for planning activities that include conducting a comprehensive analysis to determine the current status of HIT activities in the state.  As part of that process, Iowa will gather information on issues such as existing barriers to its use of EHRs, provider eligibility for EHR incentive payments and the creation of a State Medicaid HIT Plan, which will define the state’s vision for its long-term HIT use.
Iowa will also use funding for this planning phase to assess expectations of its incentive payment recipients and their need for personal health records (PHRs). PHRs are confidential and easy-to-use electronic file or records used to manage and individual’s health services information; however, PHRs differ from EHRs in that they are managed by the consumer. EHRs are maintained by health care providers to keep and protect documentation and reports about the patient and the care they have been provided.
Additional information on implementation of the Medicaid-related provisions of the Recovery Act’s EHR incentive payment program
may be found on the CMS website.

Source: CMS Press Release