Under CMS' current regulations for its e-prescribing incentive program, which started paying bonuses to doctors in 2009, physicians who do not e-prescribe face a 1 percent reduction in their Medicare payments in 2012. To avoid that penalty, they must show they ordered at least 10 prescriptions on an e-prescribing system between January 1 and June 30 of this year.
The original rules specified that a physician could request a hardship exemption by June 30 if he or she practiced in a rural area with limited Internet access, or in an area where few pharmacies accepted online prescriptions. Under the proposed rule, a doctor could also qualify for an exemption if he or she:
In addition, CMS would redefine an electronic prescribing system to include e-prescribing modules of EHRs certified for Meaningful Use. It's not surprising that this wasn't included in the original rule, because the e-prescribing program began prior to the passing of the HITECH Act that established Meaningful Use incentives. But it's somewhat mystifying that this glitch wasn't fixed before now.