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    CMS extends eRx hardship exemption deadline

    If you weren’t able to meet Medicare's electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) requirements, you have another chance to file for a hardship exemption and avoid having your Medicare payments penalized next year.

    The initial deadline to apply ended June 30, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) re-opened its "Quality Reporting Communication Support Page" November 1 for Medicare 2013 eRx payment adjustment hardship exemption requests.

    Individual eligible professionals and CMS-selected group practices will be allowed to claim the exemption if they submit their hardship requests through the CMS’ Web site by January 31. CMS says the requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and all decisions will be final. Hardship requests for the 2014 payment adjustment will be accepted later in 2013, CMS notes.

    Without the hardship exemption, physicians who failed to meet e-prescribing requirements could face a 1.5% cut in their Medicare payment rates next year. You can seek an exemptions if you:

    • could not e-prescribe because of state, federal, or local regulations;

    • didn’t write enough prescriptions in total (electronic or paper) to meet the e-prescribing requirement;

    • practiced in a rural area without sufficient Internet access; or

    • didn’t have access to pharmacies that could fill electronic prescriptions.

    The 2013 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule includes two additional e-prescribing exemption categories for physicians to earn electronic health record bonuses.

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