Medicare will eventually begin linking higher payment to providers with electronic prescribing systems as a way to improve value for beneficiaries, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said during a symposium.
I believe that very soon were going to have to tell participating Medicare providers that if they intend to use a system other than e-prescribing, we wont be able to compensate them at the highest level, Leavitt said. The symposium was sponsored by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association and RxHub.
Leavitt also seemed optimistic that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) would include an e-prescribing mandate in an upcoming Medicare reform bill. Theres been substantial support for e-prescribing in both parties. I would hope a Medicare bill would include the authority I just described, he said.
The PCMA is part of a large coalition of industry groups that has been pushing for an e-Rx mandate. However, medical groups have said that industrywide e-prescribing standards need to be in place first before such a mandate takes effect.
Any e-prescribing mandate that triggers potential penalties should be deferred until two years after final standards are in place, the American Medical Association has recommended.
We do need to give people a fair chance to prepare for such a change, Leavitt said, adding that he would consider the AMAs approach, but wouldnt elaborate on whether two years was a reasonable phase-in period.
Leavitt emphasized that HHS wouldnt be requiring providers to adopt an entire electronic health record, just the e-prescribing component, which in many instances can be acquired for free, he said. -- by Jennifer Lubell