Action Special Issue: Nov. 2, 2011

TMA Action Nov. 2, 2011 

News and Insights from Texas Medical Association  

SPECIAL ISSUE: E-Prescribing Deadline Extended to Nov. 8  

Physicians have more time to seek an exemption from a 1-percent cut in Medicare payments next year for not meeting Medicare's e-prescribing requirements this year. The new deadline to file the online hardship exemption form is Tuesday, Nov. 8.  

CMS also announced that the cut in Medicaid payments to physicians scheduled for Jan. 1 unless Congress intervenes will be slightly less than projected. The agency now says it will be 27.4 percent, not 29.5 percent, because Medicare spending increased less than expected.  

"This payment rate cut would have dire consequences that should not be allowed to happen," said CMS Administrator Donald M. Berwick, MD. "We need a permanent SGR fix to solve this problem once and for all. That's why the president's budget and his Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction call for permanent, fiscally responsible reform and why we are committed to working with the Congress to achieve a permanent and sustainable fix."  

The e-prescribing hardship exemption categories include:  

  • Your practice is located in a rural area without high speed Internet access.  
  • Your practice is located in an area without sufficient available pharmacies for e-prescribing (CMS clarified by providing more examples including disruption of e-prescriptions between physician offices and pharmacies caused by natural disasters).  
  • You are registered to participate in the Medicare or Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program and you adopted certified EHR technology by Oct. 1, 2011, and did so before requesting an exemption.  
  • You are unable to electronically prescribe due to local, state, or federal law or regulation. (CMS clarified that physicians who mainly prescribe narcotics but due to certain limitations cannot submit these prescriptions electronically can apply for this exemption category.)  
  • You do limited prescribing (you do not prescribe on a regular basis).  
  • There were too few opportunities for you to report the e-prescribing measure due to limitations of the measure's denominator (you do e-prescribe but your electronic prescriptions are not related to qualifying visits/services).  

CMS advises physicians who have trouble accessing the Communication Support Page to:  

If you still have trouble, call the QualityNet Help Desk at (866) 288-8912 or email from 7 am to 7 pm, Monday through Friday. There may be a waiting period due to the high volume of calls to the help desk.  

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