'Americans are ready for e-prescribing'

By Bernie Monegain
12:00 AM

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) today added their voices to the call for electronic prescribing.

Kerry is among the sponsors of bi-partisan legislation that would require physicians who treat Medicare patients to use electronic prescribing, starting Jan. 1, 2011.

The bill would authorize Medicare bonus payments to e-prescribing physicians. The bonuses would begin in 2008. The bill also calls for a 1 percent bonus payment for claims that include e-prescribing.

"Americans are ready for e-prescribing," said Gingrich, the founder of the Center for Health Transformation. "With Americans using ATM cards everyday in this country and abroad, we believe they are prepared for the massive benefits provided by an electronic prescriptions system - a 21st century system."

Besides Kerry, other sponsors of the e-prescribing bill "Medicare Electronic Medication and Safety Protection (E-MEDS) Act of 2007" are Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sen, John Ensign (R-Nev.), and Mel Martinez (R-Fla.). In the House sponsors are Reps. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) and Jon Porter (R-Nev.).

Some of them joined Kerry and Gingrich at the Capitol Hill news conference today as did Andrew S. Warner, MD, of the Lahey Clinic. Warner is a board member of the American Medical Group Association.

The Center for Health Transformation is working with virtually all the stakeholders - insurers, employers, physicians, pharmacists and pharmacies, technology firms, and government agencies - to accelerate the adoption of electronic prescribing, Gingrich said.

The center has created a working group dedicated to developing solutions to the issues of connectivity, provider education, and the creation and alignment of incentives.  

There has been a swell of activity on the e-prescribing front in recent days that includes a letter from Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt to the Senate Finance Committee urging that any Medicare legislation this year include a requirement that doctors adopt healthcare information technology.