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CMS Releases Final E-Prescribing Rule

Rule includes additional hardship exemptions from 2012 penalty

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its final rule on changes to the federal electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) incentive program. The final rule establishes the requirements for successful reporting of the e-prescribing measure, while also finalizing additional hardship exemptions for avoiding the 2012 e-prescribing penalty that begins on Jan. 1, 2012.

The ACC, along with the AMA and others, have had significant concerns regarding the implementation of the 2012 penalty and have urged CMS to reconsider the details and timing and to thoroughly consider the effects of this position on specialists such as cardiologists. The final rule, while not extending the reporting time, does address many of these concerns and make it easier for more physicians to be eligible for hardship exemptions.
 
Under the rule, final hardship exemption categories for eligible physicians are as follows:

  • Practitioners who have registered to participate in the Medicare or Medicaid EHR Incentive Program and have adopted certified EHR technology.
  • Practitioners who are unable to e-prescribe due to local, state or federal law or regulation. (This proposed exemption is designed to address practitioners who primarily prescribe controlled substances.)
  • Practitioners who infrequently prescribe. (For 2012, this means a practitioner must not have had the opportunity to e-prescribe at least 10 times between January and the end of June 2011.)
  • Practitioners who provide services that not are included in the e-prescribing measures (e.g. does not provide office visits).
  • Practitioners with practices located in a rural area without high-speed Internet access.
  • Practitioners with a practice located in an area without sufficient available pharmacies for e-prescribing. (This includes natural disaster-caused disruptions.)

Read more about the e-prescribing penalty.

E-Prescribing Hardship Exemption Deadline Extended to Nov. 8

After hearing from physicians about difficulty accessing the CMS Communication Support Page, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has extended the deadline to file for an e-prescribing hardship exemption until Tuesday, Nov. 8.  It is important to note that these exemptions are very limited and the majority of cardiologists who did not report e-prescribing activity during the first half of 2011 will receive reduced payments in 2012.

Click here to file for a hardship exemption. If you are having trouble accessing this page, CMS suggests the following: 

After typing in the above link, in the internet browser, select Tools/Internet Options/Advanced.  Scroll down toward the bottom and locate the “Use TLS 1.0” choice.  Place a checkmark in the “Use TLS 1.0.”  Click OK. Attempt to access the site again. 

If you still have trouble accessing the site, the QualityNet Help Desk may be reached at 1-866-288-8912 or email at qnetsupport@sdps.org from 7am to 7pm CT, Monday through Friday.  Due to the high volume of calls that the QualityNet Help Desk has been receiving there may be a waiting period.  
 

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