Only 16 Weeks Left to Avoid eRx Penalty

An article today in the American Medical News continues the coverage of the disconnect between the HITECH incentives for EHR adoption/meaningful use and the CMS e-prescribing incentive program. This post supplements prior blog entries on AmericanEHR (here and here). We are covering this again today because of the impending deadline of June 30, 2011 to qualify for the e-prescribing incentive program — approximately 16 weeks away.

From the article by Charles Fiegl:

“Although a 1% Medicare penalty for failing to use e-prescribing doesn’t officially kick in until 2012, physicians must implement and use such a system at least 10 times between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2011, to avoid the pay cut, and at least 25 times by the end of 2011 to avoid a penalty in 2013. Physicians are prohibited from collecting bonuses in the same year from both the e-prescribing program and the meaningful use program, which launched this year.”

In December, 44 professsional societies endorsed a letter to Secretary Sebelius highlighting this issue and asking for revision of the policy that would enact penalties under this program. From the letter:

“CMS and other educators have indicated to physicians across the country that they will not be able to receive incentives from both the Medicare e-prescribing and Medicare EHR incentive programs simultaneously. Therefore, in 2011, 2012, and 2013, physicians should choose to only participate in one of these programs. Many physicians who have not yet purchased an e-prescribing or an EHR system have decided to forego the e-prescribing incentives and invest in a comprehensive EHR.”

The CMS website provides this guidance (emphasis added):

“It’s not too late to start participating in the 2010 Electronic Prescribing Incentive Program (eRx) and potentially qualify to receive a full-year incentive payment for 2011. In addition, beginning 2012, CMS will apply payment adjustments to eligible professional who are not successful electronic prescribers under the eRx Incentive Program. To become successful electronic prescribers for purposes of avoiding the 2012 eRx payment adjustment, eligible professionals must report the electronic prescribing measure for a required minimum number of unique electronic prescribing events via claims between January 1, 2011 and June 30, 2011.”

The American College of Physicians has some guidance posted on the e-Prescribing Incentive Program with links to external sites that have additional information.

This post is the personal opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the American College of Physicians (ACP). ACP does not endorse a specific EHR brand or product and ACP makes no representations, warranties, or assurances as to the accuracy or completeness of the information provided herein.

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