Through a proposed rule, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have answered the call by organized medicine to extend the deadline for qualifying physicians to meet electronic prescribing requirements and add additional hardship exemptions. With the current rules, eligible physicians must use an e-prescribing system to complete at least 10 paperless drug orders between January 1, 2011 and June 30, 2011 to avoid a 1% Medicare pay cut in 2012. However, the proposed rule gives the physicians another opportunity to avoid the cut and add more hardship exemptions that a physician could meet. Whereas under the current rule physicians have to apply for hardship exemptions by June 30, 2011 and only have two possible exemptions, the proposed rule extends the deadline to October 1, 2011 and adds more hardship claims, including:
• The physician has limited prescribing activity during the six-month time frame.
• The physician has delayed purchasing an e-prescribing system because he or she intends to participate in Medicare’s electronic medical records incentive program from 2011.
•The physician lives in an area where regulations prevent e-prescribing, such as those prohibiting paperless orders for narcotics.
•The physician e-prescribes, but only for types of visits that do not count toward the 10-order minimum.
Finally, the proposed rule allows physician practices that use certified EHR systems to use those systems to meet the e-prescribing requirements.
For more information on the meaningful use criteria for EHR incentive payments, please contact a Wachler & Associates attorney at 248-544-0888.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Call by organized medicine