AUA, others call for revised policy on Medicare e-prescribing penalty

February 17, 2011

The AUA, the American Medical Association, and more than 100 state and specialty medical societies have urged the Department of Health and Human Services to revise the Medicare e-prescribing penalty policy in a letter sent to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The AUA, the American Medical Association, and more than 100 state and specialty medical societies have urged the Department of Health and Human Services to revise the Medicare e-prescribing penalty policy in a letter sent to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The policy, which would penalize physicians in 2012 if they do not e-prescribe in the first 6 months of 2011, will hurt efforts to implement widespread health information technology adoption among physician practices and cause them to take on needless financial and administrative burdens, the AMA said in a press release.

"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.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services 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, according to the AMA.

"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," Dr. Stack said. "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."