CMS e-prescribing proposal slammed over physician penalties

The American Medical Association (AMA) and 91 specialty societies criticized the government's proposed new rules on electronic prescribing in comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). They said that CMS' latest proposal, which amounts to a partial pullback on penalties for physicians who haven't started e-prescribing, doesn't go far enough.

The AMA and other medical societies expressed serious concern over applying physician penalties in 2012 based on the last-minute 2011 reporting requirement. They also took issue with not having enough time to apply for an exemption from the 2012 penalty, and the lack of an additional reporting period in 2012 for physicians who couldn't comply with the program requirements in 2011 through no fault of their own.

Under the current program rules, doctors who failed to start e-prescribing by June 30 of this year will lose one percent of their Medicare reimbursement in 2012. The new proposal would give them an opportunity to avoid penalties in 2013 and 2014 if they wrote at least 10 e-prescriptions in the first halves of 2012 and 2013, respectively. Still, that doesn't let them off the hook for the 2012 penalty unless they fail to write enough prescriptions, lack prescribing privileges or weren't licensed to practice as of June 30, 2011.

An earlier proposal that CMS floated in May would provide hardship exemptions to physicians who practice in an area where few pharmacies accept online prescriptions, high-speed Internet service is limited, or state regulations prevent some forms of e-prescribing. But the medical societies said that CMS is not providing enough time for physicians to apply for these exemptions to avoid penalization in 2012. 

To learn more:
- read the medical societies' comments to CMS (.pdf)
- see the AMA press release 


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