AMA Asks HHS to Revise the Medicare e-Rx Policy

According to current Medicare regulations, any physician that is not e-prescribing in the first six months of 2011 will be penalized in 2012.  The American Medical Association (AMA), believing this punitive regulation to be a hindrance to proper widespread healthcare IT adoption and implementation, is urging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to revise this portion of Medicare policy.  In a letter recently sent by the AMA to HHS Secretary Sebelius, the AMA claimed that this federal policy would force healthcare providers to undertake extra and unnecessary administrative and financial burdens.

“The last minute decision to require e-prescribing in 2011 will force physicians to spend additional financial and administrative resources to purchase e-prescribing software that most of them will end up discarding when they transition to a complete EHR system,” said AMA Board Secretary Steven J. Stack, MD.

Currently, under CMS rules, healthcare providers cannot receive both e-prescribing and EHR incentive bonuses simultaneously.  Moreover, healthcare providers who do not partake in the e-prescribing program for 2011 will face penalties in both 2012 and 2013.  “This unreasonable policy leaves many physicians with little choice but to purchase and use a stand-alone e-prescribing program during the initial months of 2011 just to avoid penalties,” says Stack.  The AMA demands that HHS take swift action in order to reduce any confusion among providers as well as any unnecessary administrative and financial burdens providers will face when adopting healthcare IT systems.