In its comments on the proposed 2011 physician fee schedule, the Medical Group Management Association strongly urged the CMS to revise the penalties slated for its e-prescribing incentives program.
The CMS had implemented the “eRX” program in 2009, offering a 1% bonus payment starting in 2011 for physicians or group practices that would qualify as "successful electronic prescribers" as defined in the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008. In 2012, however, the program is set to impose penalties on providers who are not successful e-prescribers.
The MGMA agreed with the CMS that low-volume prescribers should not be penalized but suggested in its comments letter that the agency "exercise additional flexibility in assigning penalties." As an example, the letter's authors stated, a high-volume prescriber may be located in a geographic area where nearby pharmacies don't have electronic prescribing capabilities.
The CMS also states that the receipt of an incentive payment under Medicare's electronic health records incentive program will not preclude providers from being subject to the penalty under the separately administered eRX program. To avoid the penalty, a physician or group practice "still must meet the relevant eRX penalty criteria for being a successful electronic prescriber."
MGMA contends that providers meeting "meaningful user of electronic health records" criteria should not be assigned any penalties under the eRX program.