Texas doctors ask Medicare for e-prescribing extension

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 4, 2011

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The Texas Medical Assn. warned the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that the June 30 deadline to determine a 2012 pay penalty under Medicare's electronic prescribing program could have unintended consequences.

The association wants the agency to move the deadline for meeting e-prescribing requirements to Oct. 1, according to a June 22 letter to CMS Administrator Donald M. Berwick, MD. This year, CMS required eligible physicians and other health care professionals to report eligible e-prescribing activity at least 10 times by June 30. Those who failed to meet the threshold will be subject to a 1% decrease in payments for Medicare services in 2012.

The threat of a penalty has caused physicians to adopt e-prescribing technology temporarily instead of incorporating new systems to improve practices.

"Physicians are rushing into e-prescribing just to avoid the penalty," wrote Joseph Schneider, MD, chair of the TMA's committee on health information technology. "We have found that some are turning on free or cheap systems, meeting the 10 prescription requirement and then not using the system again. This will forever distort the number of active e-prescribers."

CMS has issued a proposed regulation that would exempt from the penalty physicians who claim one of several hardships by Oct. 1. The rule is expected to be finalized in August.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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