As stated in the final 2013 Physician Fee Schedule (PFS), the Centers of Medicaid and Medicare (CMS) is allowing another hardship exemption to the 2013 and 2014 financial penalties associated with the eRx Incentive Program. Previously, Medicare providers who are not participating in the eRx Incentive Program were subject to a 1.5 percent reduction of their Medicare Part B PFS payments in 2013 and a 2 percent reduction in 2014. However, CMS is now excluding eligible professionals (EPs) who are participating, or demonstrate intent to participate, in the EHR Meaningful Use Incentive Program from any eRx penalties.
Unlike other hardship exemptions, however, CMS is not
asking providers to actively apply for this exemption. Instead, CMS will automatically determine if a provider is enrolled in the EHR program through the following registration and participation data:
- Avoid the 2013 eRx Penalty: Register, or achieve meaningful use, for the EHR Meaningful Use Incentive Program by January 31, 2013.
- Avoid the 2014 eRx Penalty: Register, or achieve meaningful use, for the EHR Meaningful Use Incentive Program by June 30, 2013.
To avoid the 2014 penalty, providers must register for the EHR program by June 2013—not by January 2014. It is unlikely CMS will modify this timeline in future rulemaking. CMS encourages providers to register for the EHR program as soon as possible. With the January, 31, 2013 deadline, it is possible that CMS will begin penalizing practices, even though there is still time to qualify for this exemption. CMS would reprocess claims in this situation, but that process may take months.
EPs can register for the EHR incentive program at https://ehrincentives.cms.gov/hitech/login.action
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