AMA seeks relief from 'onslaught' of CMS regulations

A host of healthcare associations and organizations are urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to address an "onslaught of overlapping regulations that affect physicians," including penalties under the electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) program, the electronic health record (EHR) Meaningful Use incentive program, and the transition to ICD-10.

"Facing all of these deadlines at once is overwhelming to physicians, whose top priority is patients," said American Medical Association president-elect Jeremy Lazarus, M.D., in a statement. "We have asked CMS to develop solutions for implementing these regulations in a way that reduces the burden on physicians."

letter sent to CMS this week was signed by a host of national organizations, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, the Medical Group Management Association as well as a passel of state medical societies and associations.

"We urge CMS to re-evaluate the penalty timelines associated with these programs and examine the administrative and financial burdens and intersection of these various federal regulatory programs. We also urge CMS to use its discretionary authority provided by Congress under these programs to develop solutions for synchronizing these programs to minimize burdens to physician practices, and propose these solutions in the physician fee schedule proposed rule for calendar year 2013," the letter states.

CMS began handing out e-prescribing incentives equal to 1 percent of their total Medicare Part B payments for the year. For calendar year 2012, physicians who are eligible for the incentive payments but fail to adopt e-prescribing face a 1 percent penalty.

In 2013, the incentive drops to .5 percent and the penalty rises to 1.5 percent. In 2014, incentive bonuses go away and the penalty jumps to 2 percent.

Deadlines to comply with the ICD-10 coding overhaul have been extended--CMS has not yet announced the new deadline.

Upcoming CMS deadlines for Meaningful Use include the following:

  • July 3, 2012: Last day for hospitals to begin their 90-day reporting period to demonstrate Meaningful Use for the EHR Incentive Program.
  • October 3, 2012: Last day for eligible professionals to begin their 90-day Meaningful Use reporting period for calendar year 2012.
  • November 30, 2012: Last day for eligible hospitals to attest to receive an incentive payment for fiscal year 2012 under the EHR Incentive Program.
  • February 28, 2013: Last day for eligible professionals to attest to receive an incentive payment for calendar year (CY) 2012.

"In addition to these upcoming deadlines, physicians who treat Medicare patients are also currently facing a drastic cut of about 30 percent on January 1 from the broken Medicare physician payment formula," Lazarus said. "The combination of these financial burdens could prevent physicians from making the investments needed to transition to new models of care delivery and improve the value and quality of care in the Medicare system."

To learn more:
- read the AMA announcement
- see the associations' letter to CMS (.pdf)

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