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AMA: Physician Groups Call On HHS to Revise E-Rx Penalty Policy

Current policy will unjustly base 2012 penalties on physicians’ e-prescribing use in 2011

For immediate release:
Dec. 10, 2010

Washington, D.C. – The American Medical Association (AMA) and 103 state and specialty medical societies urged the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to revise the Medicare e-prescribing penalty policy in a letter sent to HHS Secretary Sebelius. This policy, which would penalize physicians in 2012 if they don’t e-prescribe in the first six months of 2011, will hurt efforts to implement widespread health IT adoption among physician practices and cause them to take on needless financial and administrative 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, M.D.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has said that physicians cannot receive incentives from both the Medicare e-prescribing incentive program and the Medicare EHR incentive program simultaneously. However,  if physicians choose not to participate in the 2011 e-prescribing program, they will face penalties in 2012 and 2013. Not aligning these programs will ultimately delay physicians’ efforts to adopt a complete EHR. 

“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,” said Dr. Stack. “HHS must take action now to align the e-prescribing and EHR incentive programs in order to alleviate confusion and reduce financial and administrative burdens on physician practices working to adopt health IT.”



Lisa Lecas
AMA Media Relations

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