Healthcare News & Insights

More doctors escape Medicare electronic prescribing penalty

A big chunk of physicians will be allowed to apply for an exemption to a looming Medicare penalty levied against providers not using electronic prescriptions. 

Starting next year, providers that are not using electronic prescribing systems will be subject to 1.5% reduction in Medicare reimbursements. Physicians had until June 30 of this year to report at least 10 electronic prescriptions.

Doctors also had until that date to apply for a hardship exemption to the electronic prescribing penalty, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently extended that deadline to January 31, 2013.

In addition, CMS added another way physicians could qualify for an exemption: Now, practices that demonstrate an intent to achieve meaningful of electronic health records or those that are already using EHRs can qualify to be exempt from the penalty.

That’s in addition to four hardship exemptions providers have been able to apply for previously. Providers can avoid the penalty if they:

  1. Are located in a rural area without high speed Internet access
  2. Are located in an area without sufficient pharmacies for e-prescribing
  3. Are unable to e-prescribe because of federal, state or local laws or regulations, or
  4. Have generated fewer than 100 prescriptions between January 1, 2012, and June 30, 2012.

Meanwhile, providers that are using electronic prescribing systems can get a 0.5% Medicare bonus in 2013.

To file an exemption request, use the CMS’s online portal here, and read the American Medical Association’s electronic prescribing fact sheet for more information.

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