By Emily P. Walker, Washington Correspondent, MedPage Today
Physicians who use a qualified e-prescribing system are eligible for an additional 1% in Medicare Part B payments in 2011 and 2012, and a 0.5% increase in 2013. Providers who fail to complete at least 10 paperless prescriptions using a qualified e-prescribing system between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2011, will receive a 1% cut in Medicare reimbursements in 2012, a 1.5% cut in 2013, and a 2% cut in 2014.
In a proposed rule from May, CMS said doctors who are unable to e-prescribe should apply for a “hardship exemption” before Oct. 1. In the final rule issued Sept. 1, CMS announced doctors now have until Nov. 1 to apply for an exemption.
The Federal HITECH Act will provide over $20 billion to promote health care provider use of electronic health records. Starting this year, “meaningful” EHR users can earn $44,000 under Medicare and $64,000 under Medicaid over 5 years. Those who enroll early will benefit the most, because nearly 70% of the payments come in the program’s first 2 years. Physicians who have engaged in PQRI and electronic prescribing in the past few years have put another $6,000 to $8,000 in their pockets.
The Federal push for electronic health records isn’t going away. Over $7 billion has been released to fund state capacity for exchanging health information across the health care system both within and across states. The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration received nearly $21 million to develop this state’s health information infrastructure. The intent is to assure a fully connected national health care IT system to provide all health care providers and their patients seamless access to a patient’s medical information.