Mass. bill would offer tax breaks for e-prescribing

State policymakers hope incentives help drive up adoption rates.

By Pamela Lewis Dolan — Posted July 24, 2009

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A bill pending in Massachusetts has a goal of pushing more electronic prescribing in a state already tops in such activity.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Peter J. Koutoujian, would provide tax incentives to any corporation with licensed physicians that invests in e-prescribing technology. That would include physician practices.

Under the provisions of the bill, deductions would be allowed for the cost of the technology itself, any needed infrastructure and associated labor costs of installing the systems.

The state has been urging physicians to switch to electronic prescribing as a way of curbing rising health care costs associated with paper-based medical systems.

Sonya Khan, research analyst for Koutoujian's office, said a hearing on the bill was held on July 8 before the revenue committee, which will send its recommendations back to the house later this year.

According to SureScripts, the e-prescribing health information exchange, Massachusetts ranked first for the percentage of prescriptions sent electronically in 2008 with 20.5%. The next highest was neighboring Rhode Island, at 17.3%.

A growing number of physicians are looking into adopting e-prescribing systems now that Medicare is providing incentives for using of the technology. Those incentives will turn to penalties in 2012.

The American Medical Association launched an online learning center earlier this year that helps physicians find the right e-prescribing system and determine how much they could expect in incentives if they were to start prescribing electronically (link).

Koutoujian is sponsoring a separate bill that would provide tax breaks to companies providing employee wellness programs.

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