The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a proposed rule for changes to the Medicare Electronic Prescribing (eRx) Incentive Program.  The proposed rule is on display at the Federal Register, and the deadline for submitting comments is July 25, 2011.

According to the American Medical Association (AMA), the proposed rule makes significant changes to the e-prescribing program by adding more exemption categories so that physicians are not unfairly penalized for failing to meet the requirements.  Physicians are still required to e-prescribe using a qualifying e-prescribing system and report the G8553 code on at least 10 Medicare Part B claims from Jan. 1, 2011, through June 30, 2011, to avoid the 2012 e-prescribing penalty.  However, physicians also will have an opportunity to avoid the penalty by attesting through an online web portal that they should be eligible for one of the following exemptions

  • Physician’s practice is located in a rural area without high-speed internet access.
  • Physician’s practice is located in an area without sufficient available pharmacies for electronic prescribing.
  • Physician is registered to participate in the Medicare or Medicaid EHR Incentive Program and has adopted certified EHR technology.
  • Physician is unable to electronically prescribe due to local, state or federal law or regulation (e.g., prescribes controlled substances).
  • Physician infrequently prescribes (e.g., prescribe fewer than 10 prescriptions between Jan. 1, 2011, and June 30, 2011).
  • There are insufficient opportunities to report the e-prescribing measure due to program limitations.

 Physicians will have to apply for an exemption from the 2012 e-prescribing penalty via the web-portal tool by Oct. 1, 2011.