In what is starting to feel like the endless series of waivers when HIPAA was thrust upon doctors, Medicare is offering additional and welcome waivers.
Physicians who see Medicare patients would have more opportunities to avoid being penalized for failing to prescribe medications electronically by a June 30 deadline under a proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The proposed revisions would provide relief to eligible physicians who do not expect to report at least 10 paperless drug orders to CMS by June 30. Medicare will penalize doctors for failing to meet 2011 e-prescribing requirements by reducing payments by 1% in 2012. On May 26, the Medicare agency said it would give doctors a second chance to avoid the penalty after the deadline. It would allow physicians who did not meet the minimum reporting requirements to claim one of several hardship exemptions through a special website by Oct. 1.
The proposed rule also would apply to physician practices that already have adopted certified electronic medical record systems in an effort to earn Medicare or Medicaid meaningful use bonuses. Those practices could use those systems to satisfy the e-prescribing requirements as well. Under the current program, practices that use certified EMRs to send paperless drug orders will satisfy the e-prescribing requirement as long as the system meets four specific functionalities. If the proposed rule is finalized later this year, certified EMRs will be acceptable for e-prescribing in future reporting years even if they don’t technically meet the four specific functionalities.
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