There is misinformation and misunderstanding regarding the rules behind the federal healthcare IT subsidy payments. As a result, many dental groups and DSOs will miss out on millions of dollars of additional federal and state technology subsidy payments over the next four years.
Quick Review of the Federal Healthcare IT Subsidy Program
In 2011, a system of state subsidies based on a willingness of medical and dental groups to integrate best practices software technology, had begun. Most of the medical groups took advantage of these subsidies. However, since this was a lesser known program in dentistry, a much smaller number of dental groups and DSOs took advantage of the subsidy payments. If eligible, a group, DSO, or individual dental practice could receive over $63,000 per provider in subsidy payments over a six-year period. In fact, one DSO received a check for over $500,000 last year alone and is due to receive yearly subsidy checks through 2021.
Yearly Technology Subsidies Still Available Through 2021
There are many groups still eligible for technology subsides. Many of them, either through previous consultants that left them in the dark or by just not having the right information, thought that after they received their year one payments, that was the end of it.
To be clear, a group or DSO which is still eligible can obtain these subsides over the next four years if they show that they are using certified software technology. The unfortunate part is that many times groups don’t even know that they have eligible providers.
Over the next four years, a group or DSO can receive subsidies for both providers who have been working previously, as well as any new providers who recently came on board. It is highly beneficial for a dental group or DSO to check with CMS to see if your providers are eligible.
Has Your Vendor Updated Their Certification?
If your software vendor is presently certified for the technology subsidy program and you have used this certification to obtain subsidies in the past, you need to ask your vendor if they are planning on continuing to support your subsidies by upgrading their software as required by the program. As it stands now, the program is requiring upgraded software by 2019 in order to continue to be eligible for subsidies. The issue is that with the handful of dental vendors that have been certified, unless they plan on expending the resources to upgrade their software to the newest certification, DSOs and dental groups might be out of luck. In the case of larger DSOs and groups this could mean losses of millions over the next few years.
Written by Mike Uretz for GDN