The CMS has issued a proposed rule to force physicians and other providers to implement more advanced data transmission standards when sending electronic prescriptions.
The proposed rule would eliminate an exception to the technology rules HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt approved for e-prescribing in 2005 that allowed provider e-prescribing systems to transmit computer-generated faxes to pharmacies and pharmacy benefit management, or PBM, companies. In November 2005, HHS published a final rule adopting e-prescribing standards as authorized under the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003. The rule is to be used by physicians and suppliers under Medicare Part D.
The proposed new rule, included as part of the physician fee schedule for 2008, would require all e-prescribing transactions between providers and pharmacies to be in the Script standard developed by the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs, a not-for-profit, American National Standard Institute-accredited standards development organization.
In a two-page "fact sheet" explaining the proposal, the CMS said that leeway was granted in 2005 because, "absent this exemption, entities using e-prescribing software that generated faxes would either have been required to comply with the Script standard or revert to paper prescribing. CMS expected that entities using computer-generated fax software would adopt the use of the Script standard over time, but this has not occurred to date."
A public comment period on the proposed rule is now open and will be accepted until Aug. 31. -- by Joseph Conn