More re­lief sought

Waivers for e-rx pro­gram fall short, providers say

Modern Healthcare - - The Week In Healthcare - Rich Daly

Ad­di­tional hard­ship waivers and an ex­tended dead­line for the fed­eral e-pre­scrib­ing pro­gram have done lit­tle to mit­i­gate long-stand­ing provider con­cerns with the pro­gram. Fi­nal rules the CMS is­sued last week tweak the Elec­tronic Pre­scrib­ing In­cen­tive Pro­gram, which cre­ates fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives and penal­ties to en­cour­age dig­i­tal pre­scrip­tions from health­care providers in Medi­care.

The changes come in re­sponse to provider com­plaints that the pro­gram pun­ishes clin­i­cians who are ei­ther lo­gis­ti­cally un­able to par­tic­i­pate or al­ready are par­tic­i­pat­ing in a sim­i­lar fed­eral pro­gram with dif­fer­ent re­quire­ments. The new ex­emp­tions to the pro­gram’s penalty phase ap­ply to physi­cians par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Medi­care or Med­i­caid EHR in­cen­tive pro­grams and to providers who per­form “lim­ited” pre­scrib­ing, among oth­ers.

Al­low­ing the large num­ber of providers who are not ex­pected to par­tic­i­pate in the pro­gram for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons to es­cape its Medi­care pay­ment penalty pro­vi­sions is “a step in the right di­rec­tion,” said An­ders Gil­berg, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of gov­ern­ment af­fairs at the Med­i­cal Group Man­age­ment As­so­ci­a­tion.

How­ever, re­quir­ing physi­cians who par­tic­i­pate in the EHR in­cen­tive pro­gram to seek hard­ship waivers places an un­nec­es­sary bur­den on them, Gil­berg said, be­cause the

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