Counting Down to June E-Prescribe Penalty

Texas physicians have until June 30 to e-prescribe to avoid penalties in 2012 (1 percent of Medicare Part B claims). If you are not already e-prescribing in your office, act immediately to avoid this penalty. If you are not already using an electronic health record (EHR) system with e-prescribing capabilities, you can install a standalone e-prescribing system and still meet the approaching deadline. Physicians can even use a free e-prescribing service to avoid the penalty. 

Physicians must report e-prescribing via claims using G-code G8553 on at least 10 unique Medicare encounters by June 30 to prevent the penalty. Report at least 25 times by Dec. 31 to qualify for a 1-percent bonus of Medicare Part B claims and prevent the penalty in 2013.  Follow the instructions in TMA’s 2011 E-Prescribing informational paper [PDF], e-mail or call the TMA HIT helpline for more information at (800) 880-5720.If you need help with e-prescribing, turn to the Texas regional extension centers (RECs). RECs provide support to primary care physicians to help with e-prescribing, EHR selection, workflow analysis, staff training, EHR incentives, and much more. At a cost of $300 per eligible physician, you can get a consultant on site at any location in Texas. Visit TMA's Texas REC Resource Center for more information.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has offered the e-prescribing incentive since 2009 to encourage the use of e-prescribing to improve the efficiency and safety of health care. E-prescribing is a way to prevent medication errors that arise due to difficulties in reading or understanding handwritten prescriptions.    

If you plan to apply for the Medicare EHR incentive in 2011, note that you can't receive the e-prescribing incentive in the same payment year. Physicians enrolled in the federal Medicare EHR incentive program can still be penalized in 2012 if they do not report 10 e-prescriptions via claims using G-code G8553. Physicians applying for the Medicaid EHR incentive are still eligible for e-prescribing incentive payments.  

How can physicians e-prescribe for free?
The National ePrescribing Patient Safety Initiative (NEPSI) allows physicians to e-prescribe on any computer with an Internet connection for free. The product does not offer technical support, and it is vendor-sponsored with advertisements. NEPSI offers a qualified system and will allow eligible physicians to earn an e-prescribing incentive and avoid the 2012 penalty. 

What systems does TMA recommend?
TMA does not have an endorsed e-prescribing product. Surescripts, the nation's largest e-prescribing network, maintains a list of certified standalone e-prescribing products . Physicians should expect to pay around $50 per month for a standalone e-prescribing service.  

What type of encounter will count as an event?  
A physician must generate at least one electronic prescription using a qualified system during a patient visit from a set of defined services. Multiple prescriptions to the same patient constitute only one event. 


Action, May 18, 2011


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