Sunday, March 06, 2011

GAO Report:Electronic Prescribing: CMS Should Address Inconsistencies in Its Two Incentive Programs That Encourage the Use of Health Information Technology

This is an excellent report and illustrates the potential to improve on the existing programs and make them more consistent. SV


Congress established two CMS-administered programs--the Electronic Prescribing Program and the Electronic Health Records (EHR) Program--that provide incentive payments to eligible Medicare providers who adopt and use health information technology, and penalties for those who do not. The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 required GAO to report on the Electronic Prescribing Program. To do so, GAO examined how CMS determines which providers receive incentive payments and avoid penalties from that program and how many providers received incentive payments in 2009. Also, GAO was asked to examine how the requirements of the two programs compare. GAO reviewed relevant laws and regulations, interviewed CMS officials, and analyzed CMS data on incentive payments made for 2009, which were the most recent data available for a full year.

GAO is recommending that the CMS Administrator take four actions, including (1) encourage physicians and other providers in the Electronic Prescribing Program to adopt certified technology and (2) expedite efforts to remove the overlap in reporting requirements for physicians who may be eligible for incentive payments or subject to penalties under both programs. CMS generally agreed with three recommendations and disagreed with a fourth recommendation, which GAO clarified based on CMS's comments.


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