The CMS' final rule on changes to the federal e-prescribing incentive program (PDF) for 2011 includes additional hardship exemptions and more time for providers to obtain such exemptions.
CMS releases final rule on eRx incentive program changes
The program creates financial incentives and penalties to encourage the use of digital prescriptions by healthcare providers participating in Medicare. Under the final rule, issued Wednesday and scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Sept. 6, there are additional significant-hardship exemption categories to help providers avoid the Medicare payment cuts they would face beginning in 2012 for not meeting e-prescribing targets. The new exemptions apply to providers participating in the Medicare or Medicaid EHR incentive programs that adopt certified EHR technology.
The final rule also will extend the deadline for requesting significant-hardship exemptions to Nov. 1.
The new regulation also aims to eliminate a conflict with the separate electronic health-record incentive program. Under earlier proposed rules, providers who purchased one system to qualify for the EHR incentives might have had to purchase a separate system to also qualify for the e-prescribing program, even though both programs have the same goal of steering providers away from paper prescriptions to digital versions.
Additionally, practitioners can request significant-hardship exemptions to the 2012 cuts either through a Web-based tool or by mail.
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