Electronic Health Records: Saving or Undermining Medicare?


Back in 2005, then Health & Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt was enthusiastically pushing hospitals and individual physicians to embrace electronic health records. Not only would healthcare providers and their patients benefit, but the cost saving EHRs would create (estimated to be $600 billion a year) would be “a key part to saving Medicare.”

On Monday, Kathleen Sebelius, the current HHS Secretary and Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General, sent a letter to five major hospital trade associations (pdf) warning them that EHR systems were not to be used to “game the system” in order to find ways to “possibly” obtain “illegal payments” from Medicare (and Medicaid).  The letter said that Medicare billing is being scrutinized for fraud, and implied that those organizations using EHR’s to bill Medicare will receive extra scrutiny. [read more..]