The Bush administration proposed exceptions to physician self-referral laws in an effort to speed adoption of electronic medical records and electronic prescribing systems. A regulation proposed by the CMS would allow hospitals and certain other healthcare organizations to provide doctors with hardware, software and training to establish EMRs and electronic prescribing systems. A second regulation, proposed by HHS' inspector general's office, would create a "safe harbor" for donating EMR and e-prescribing technology. The CMS said it is considering a cap on the value of donations to reduce the potential they will be used as kickbacks for patient referrals. Federal law prohibits doctors from referring patients to facilities in which they have a financial interest, and healthcare organizations aren't allowed to bill Medicare for services resulting from such referrals. President Bush has made broad adoption of health information technology a priority for his administration, but many physicians say they can't afford the technology and hospitals say they can't share their technology with doctors for fear of violating federal law. HHS said the proposed regulations were published in today's Federal Register, with a 60-day comment period. At deadline, the regulations were not available online. Read HHS' news release. -- by Tony Fong
HHS proposes regulations to ease adoption of EMRs
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