CMS Sets New E-Prescribing Exemptions

Physicians who did not successfully e-prescribe 10 prescriptions (and report it on a claim form with G-code G8553) by June 30, 2011, are subject to a 1-percent Medicare penalty on Jan. 1, 2012. Thanks to advocacy from TMA and others, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on Aug. 31 four new hardship exemptions that physicians can claim to prevent the penalty:  

  1. Eligible professionals who register to participate in the Medicare or Medicaid electronic health record (EHR) incentive programs and adopt certified EHR technology;
  2. Inability to prescribe electronically due to local, state, or federal law or regulation;
  3. Limited prescribing activity; or
  4. Insufficient opportunities to report the electronic prescribing measure.

Physicians have until Nov. 1 to request the exemption. This deadline also applies to the two previously announced hardship exemptions: eligible practices in a rural area without sufficient high-speed Internet access and eligible practices in an area without sufficient available pharmacies for electronic prescribing.

Request a hardship exemption using this CMS form, or view instructions on how to request a hardship on the CMS e-Prescribing Incentive Program website at TMA will keep physicians informed as the deadline for claiming the exemption approaches. TMA signed on to the AMA comments [PDF] to the proposed rule that resulted in these important changes for physicians.   

Receive a 1-percent Medicare Incentive for 2011
There is still time to receive a 1-percent Medicare bonus by successfully e-prescribing 25 prescriptions (and report it on a claim form with G-code G8553) by Dec. 31. Writing 25 e-prescriptions by Dec. 31 also will prevent a 2013 e-prescribing penalty. Details on the e-prescribing program are available in TMA's 2011 E-Prescribing informational paper. Email or call the TMA HIT helpline for more information at (800) 880-5720. 

If you need assistance 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.

Action, Sept. 1, 2011