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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has extended the deadline to October 1 for implementing e-prescribing standards.
Physicians who missed the June 30 deadline for meeting e-prescribing requirements may have until October 1 to apply for hardship exemptions to avoid penalties, if the proposed changes to the 2011 Medicare Electronic Prescribing Incentive Program are finalized.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), as many as 209,000 doctors and other healthcare professionals could apply for hardship exemptions. Medicare will penalize doctors who fail to meet 2011 e-prescribing requirements by reducing payments by 1% next year.
Individual healthcare professionals had to report at least 10 paperless drug orders to CMS by June 30 to avoid penalties or claim one of the two previously established exemptions by June 30: practicing in an area with few pharmacies that accept e-prescriptions and practicing in rural areas without high-speed Internet access.
In addition to giving physicians and other eligible professionals until October 1 to apply for hardship exemptions, CMS proposed four additional exemptions. Among the four proposed additional exemptions yet to be finalized are limited prescribing activity and inability to prescribe due to local, state, or federal regulations. CMS expects to have a Web site available for physicians and other professionals to use to apply for the hardship exemptions. For additional information on the Medicare Electronic Prescribing Program, visit www.cms.gov/ERxIncentive/.