Eligible professionals (EPs) and selected group practices will have an opportunity to request a significant hardship exemption for the 2013 e-prescribing (eRx) payment adjustment via the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) Quality Reporting Communication Support Page. The window for entering hardship requests begins Nov. 1, 2012, and runs through Jan. 31, 2013.[See also: E-prescribing assistance arrives from AHRQ]
On May 15, Medical Group Management Association CEO Susan Turney, MD, wrote to CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner expressing concern that EPs "face great difficulty understanding the criteria for avoiding e-prescribing penalties annually as each year the requirements, deadlines and timeframes for reporting have changed significantly." Turney asked that CMS use its regulatory authority to change it approach of applying penalties in one year based on a prior year's reporting activity.
Turney further urged CMS "to deem all physicians that meet meaningful use requirements (and therefore e-prescribe and report clinical quality measures under that program) as also successfully meeting all e-prescribing and Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) requirements in each corresponding performance year. Eligible professionals that successfully meet the meaningful use requirements should automatically avoid penalties for both e-prescribing and PQRS.
MGMA requested extension of the reporting and hardship exemption request deadlines to Dec. 31, 2012 (from an original deadline date of June 30, 2012). Turney noted that many practices faced problems with claims rejections during the first several months of 2012 due to quality codes being stripped from claims by some clearinghouses through no fault of providers.[See also: Meaningful use Q&A with AAFP’s Steven Waldren, MD]
EPs requesting significant hardship exemption will be able to access CMS' Quality Reporting Communication Support Page starting on Nov. 1, 2012. CMS said it will review requests on a case-by-case basis; all decisions will be final.
Requests submitted during the upcoming window apply to the 2013 eRX payment adjustment only. Hardship exemption requests for the 2014 payment adjustment will be accepted during a separate timeframe later in calendar year 2013, according to CMS.
Exclusion criteria for EPs appear here.Additional information on the eRx Incentive Program appears here. [See also: Q&A with MGMA CEO Susan Turney, MD]