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New Opportunities to Avoid ePrescribing Penalty for 2013 – Meaningful Use Monday

Posted on November 5, 2012 I Written By

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.

According to the 2013 Medicare Final Rule released last week, there are new ways to avoid future payment adjustments under the MIPPA ePrescribing rule for those who have not already taken the necessary steps to avoid them: 1) The exemption request period has been reopened and 2) meaningful use will satisfy the ePrescribing requirements according to specific timetables.

1) CMS is offering a second chance to physicians who missed the June 30 deadline for requesting an exemption to the 2013 ePrescribing penalty (1.5%) under the original 4 categories. Between November 1, 2012 and January 31, 2013, physicians can go to the Quality Reporting Communication Support Page and request an exemption based on one of the following justifications:

  • Inability to electronically prescribe due to local, State, or Federal law or regulation (i.e., prescribe predominantly controlled substances)
  • Prescribed fewer than 100 prescriptions between January 1 and June 30, 2012
  • Insufficient high speed internet access (i.e., rural area)
  • Insufficient available pharmacies that accept electronic prescribing.

2) In the interest of harmonizing the various government programs that contain ePrescribing components, CMS now will provide two additional ways to avoid the 2013 MIPPA penalties:

  • Achieve meaningful use during 2013
  • Demonstrate intent to participate in the EHR Incentive Program and adopt Certified EHR Technology by January 31, 2013

This information will be retrieved by CMS from the information in its EHR Incentive Program’s Registration and Attestation System, rather than by having providers request an exemption as in #1 above.

ePrescribing in 2012: Keep On G-Coding – Meaningful Use Monday

Posted on January 23, 2012 I Written By

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money. Check out Lynn’s previous Meaningful Use Monday posts.

Many physicians will be pursuing EHR incentives in 2012. Because meaningful use is not dependent upon G-codes, providers have been asking whether they need to continue putting “G-8553” on Medicare claims. The answer is YES—keep on G-Coding! 

Even though physicians who receive a Medicare EHR incentive are ineligible for an ePrescribing (MIPPA) incentive, they are still subject to future ePrescribing penalties. These penalties can be avoided by ePrescribing in 2012:

  • Prevent the 2013 (1.5%) penalty – CMS is giving providers a second chance. If you failed to ePrescribe on the minimum 25 Medicare encounters in 2011, (which would have already protected you from the 2013 penalty), report G-8553 10 times between January 1 and June 30, 2012 on any Medicare claims. These claims don’t even have to be for the specified CPT “denominator” codes.
  • Prevent the 2014 (2%) penalty – Report the G-code 25 times between January 1 and December 31, 2012. These claims must be associated with the specified CPT codes (typically E&M visits). 

If you are not pursuing meaningful use in 2012—or if you are, but for some reason fail to earn the incentive this year—you can still earn a 1% ePrescribing bonus under MIPPA if you report the G-Code on claims with the specified CPT codes 25 times between January and December . 

Like last year, there will be a process for requesting an exemption from the 2013 penalties, but surprisingly, the Proposed Rule did not include earning an EHR incentive as one of the justifications.

Are You Ready for 2012? – Meaningful Use Monday

Posted on October 17, 2011 I Written By

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money. Check out Lynn’s previous Meaningful Use Monday posts.

Year 1 of the EHR Incentives program is almost history. Do you have a plan for 2012? What you do next year depends on what you did this year. 

If you did not pursue meaningful use in 2011—and many Medicare providers did not, either because they were not ready yet or because they opted to earn the ePrescribing incentive under MIPPA instead—it is now time to focus on meaningful use. You can choose any 90-day reporting period in 2012 starting as late as October 3rd, but it would be wise not to leave it to the last minute.

If you successfully attested to meaningful use in 2011, your reporting period for the second year’s incentive is a full calendar year. Regardless of which 90-day period you chose to report on for 2011, in 2012 you will report from January 1 to December 31. Incentives are tied to calendar years, so even if you completed your 2011 reporting period in September, your next period does not begin until January. Take a break from reporting, but do not abandon your meaningful use workflow.

For EPs who participate under the Medicare program, the 5 years of incentive payments must be continuous in order to earn the full $44,000 in incentives. Once you receive your first payment, skipping a subsequent year, (i.e., failing to demonstrate meaningful use), while permissible, will mean that you forfeit the payment associated with that calendar year. 

For EPs who receive a 2011 Medicaid incentive for “Adoption, Implementation, or Upgrade,” 2012 will require the demonstration of meaningful use. Since it will be your first year of meaningful use, you will only be expected to report on a 90-day period, and that period can occur any time during the year. Medicaid participants are eligible for 6 incentive payments—as opposed to 5 for Medicare providers—and unlike Medicare, the years do not have to be consecutive, as long as they are all completed by 2021. 

It’s time to start thinking about 2012.

Exemption from 2012 eRx penalties: The Process is Now in Place – Meaningful Use Monday

Posted on September 19, 2011 I Written By

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money. Check out Lynn’s previous Meaningful Use Monday posts.

The Final Rule on ePrescribing was published in the Federal Register on September 6. This is the rule that adds new categories under which some providers can request a hardship exemption from the 2012 (1%) ePrescribing penalties, and it eliminates some of the discrepancies between the Medicare ePrescribing rule and ARRA. (See Meaningful Use Monday June 6.)The only change from the Proposed Rule is the deadline for filing a request—it has been extended to November 1, 2011 (from October 1). Providers should file as early as possible, however, to minimize the number of claims that have to be reprocessed. 

Requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. To submit a request for exemption:

  • Access the exemption request form on CMS’ QualityNet website www.qualitynet.org/pqrs
  • In the “Related Links” box on the upper left, click on “Communication Support Page”, which will display the online form
  • Provide identifying info (TIN, NPI, name, address, etc.)
  • Indicate which hardship category applies
  • Submit a justification statement explaining how ePrescribing represents a significant hardship
  • Attest to the accuracy of the information submitted. 

Craft your argument thoughtfully. There is no appeal process—the decision of CMS is final.

How Critical is the October 1, 2011 Deadline? – Meaningful Use Monday

Posted on September 12, 2011 I Written By

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money. Check out Lynn’s previous Meaningful Use Monday posts.

As October approaches, providers who want to apply for the 2011 EHR incentive—and their vendors—are scrambling to implement in time to allow for the 90-day reporting period. An EMR and HIPAA reader submitted the following question: 

Under the EHR Incentive program, in order to receive payment for 2011, the 90- day reporting period must begin no later than 1 October 2011 [Technical point: October 3 is the actual deadline]. Does this mean that the ONC Certified EHR must be in place and operational at that time or can it be installed after 1 October 2011 as long as the pertinent patient data is entered into the EHR once it is installed?

 The EHR must be in use during the entire 90-day period. Data must be reported for the entire 90 days; some measures require something to “be enabled” for the entire period, (e.g., a clinical decision support rule, drug formulary); and other measures have time frames attached, (e.g. provide a clinical summary within 3 business days), which would not be possible to accomplish retroactively. 

My suggestion is that you take the pressure off by postponing meaningful use—and the receipt of your incentive—by just 3 months. If you begin reporting on January 1 instead, you will still have the opportunity to earn the full $44,000 over the 2012-2016 period. You can attest at the end of March and expect your incentive by May. This schedule has the additional advantage of allowing you to earn a 1% ePrescribing bonus for 2011, which you would forego if you earn an EHR incentive since you cannot collect both in the same reporting period. Focus your energy this year on ePrescribing for 25 Medicare encounters and on successfully implementing your new EHR in 2012.

Relief May Be in Sight for Some Penalty-Threatened ePrescribers – Meaningful Use Monday

Posted on June 6, 2011 I Written By

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.

Some physicians—most notably, surgeons and pain-management specialists—have expressed concern that they will be unfairly subject to the 2012 ePrescribing penalties, based on the fact that their opportunities to ePrescribe are limited by the nature of their practices. The Proposed ePrescribing Rule published in the Federal Register on June 1 offers a potential remedy for these providers.

 The rule, which amends the (MIPPA) 2011 ePrescribing rule, affords providers several new arguments they can use to request a “hardship exemption” from the 2012 penalties. (These are in addition to the already existing reasons, i.e., rural areas that lack high speed internet access and/or rural areas that lack pharmacies that accept ePrescriptions.) The new justifications include:

      1)   Inability to ePrescribe due to local, State, or Federal law, (i.e., providers who predominantly prescribe controlled substances).

      2)   Inability to count the ePrescriptions towards the Medicare incentive program, (i.e., providers who predominantly prescribe post-surgery—visits that are not included in the specified CPT denominator codes.

How does this relate to Meaningful Use Monday? The rule also reconciles the EHR (meaningful use) incentives and the Medicare ePrescribing incentives to some extent, in an attempt to harmonize the differing ePrescribing requirements and eliminate duplicate work for providers. (See “Meaningful Use, ePrescribing, and PQRS: Need for Harmonization” and “Meaningful Use Measures: ePrescribing.”) The Proposed Rule accomplishes this through two provisions:

      1)   Providers who successfully demonstrate meaningful use in 2011, which includes ePrescribing, would be exempt from the 2012 ePrescribing penalties. (Note, however, that these providers will be trading the 1% 2011 ePrescribing bonus for avoidance of the 1% 2012 penalty.)

      2)   ePrescribing software that is ONC-certified would be deemed also certified for the purpose of the Medicare ePrescribing program.

If you’d like to submit a comment to CMS on this proposed rule (file code CMS-3248-P), you can do so by July 25.

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money. Check out Lynn’s previous Meaningful Use Monday posts.