The Medicare e-Prescribing Fax Exemption

From Nancy Ferris at Government Health IT:

Medicare has made it official: Health care providers who use e-prescribing can get a bonus of 2 percent of their Medicare fees billed in 2009.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued its final rule on the e-prescribing incentive along with its physician payment schedule for the next calendar year. Doctors will get a 1.1 percent fee increase and also can earn up to 2 percent for reporting quality measures to the agency.

CMS also announced that it is changing its mind about the use of computer-generated faxes in e-prescribing. The agency is restoring the waiver that it had eliminated, allowing faxes for e-prescribers.

Here is an excerpt from the CMS statement:

…we are reinstating the original exemption for computer-generated facsimiles effective January 1, 2009. We also agree with those commenters who suggested that the computer-generated facsimile exemption should be eliminated (in all instances other than transient/temporary network transmission failures) once provider e-prescribing disincentives under the MIPAA program are initiated.
Although several commenters suggested that we should wait until the disincentives are maximized in 2014, we feel that it is more appropriate to eliminate the reinstated exemption (in all instances other than temporary/transient network transmission problems)sooner, when the MIPPA e-prescribing program disincentives for those who are not successful electronic prescribers begin in 2012. We believe that the January 1, 2012 compliance date for the elimination of the computer-generated facsimile exemption (in all instances other than temporary/transient transmission problems) will take advantage of the momentum that will be built by the e-prescribing incentive program under the MIPPA, and affords the industry an additional 3 years from the effective date of this final rule with comment period to move toward true e-prescribing. We also believe that the January 1, 2012 date will enable the industry to begin taking advantage of the benefits of e-prescribing sooner, and in so doing pass those advantages on to their patients in the way of increased patient safety and convenience. Therefore effective January 1, 2012, we will eliminate the reinstated exemption to the requirement to utilize the NCPDP SCRIPT standard for entities that transmit prescriptions or prescription-related information for Part D covered drugs prescribed for Part D eligible individuals by means of computer-generated facsimiles in all instances other than transient/temporary network transmission failures.

Funny how people didn’t need government coercion to adopt DVD over videotape technology.  Or cell phones over land line phones.  Most physicians aren’t Luddites.  If they haven’t switched over to EMRs and/or e-prescribing yet it’s because the technology is too primitive, too expensive, or both.

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