AMA, others sound alarm on proposed e-Rx penalty changes

Cecil B. Wilson, MD

The American Medical Association and 91 state and specialty medical societies have submitted formal comments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services expressing concern over the proposed changes to the electronic prescribing penalty program.

“The AMA has continually advocated for changes to the e-prescribing program to ensure it’s fair for all physicians and that as many physicians as possible are able to successfully participate,” said AMA immediate past president Cecil B. Wilson, MD. “While we appreciate the modifications CMS presented in the proposed rule, they don’t go far enough. More changes are needed, including establishing an additional reporting period in 2012 and not applying penalties until 2013.”

[See also: Doctors press CMS to fix EHR, eRx programs]

The AMA and other medical societies continue to express serious concern over applying physician penalties in 2012 based on the last-minute 2011 reporting requirement, not enough time to apply for an exemption from the 2012 penalty, and the lack of an additional reporting period in 2012 for physicians who couldn’t comply with the program requirements in 2011 through no fault of their own.  

“Physicians are working hard to adopt e-prescribing and other health IT and should not be unfairly penalized for practice patterns that do not fit neatly within the current, limited exemption process,” said Wilson.

The groups urged CMS to take advantage of President's Obama's recent call on federal agencies to reassess and streamline regulations.

[See also: AMA to HHS: Medicare e-Rx penalty policy 'unreasonable']

“CMS has an opportunity here to make needed changes to the 2012 e-prescribing penalty program that are directly in line with President Obama's commitment to reform the regulatory process in order to reduce unnecessary burdens on physician practices,” said Wilson.