Health Care Coalition Pushes For E-Prescribing Legislation

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The technical standardsnecessary to establish a national electronic prescribing system already havebeen adopted by physicians and pharmacy software companies, according to aletter to lawmakers from a coalition of health care providers, insurancecompanies, academics and pharmacies, CQHealthBeatreports. The letter, sent last week and addressed to the "bipartisanleadership of key" Senate and House health care committees, stated thatwhile additional standards could allow for more developed functions andfeatures, "they are by no means preventing any physician, pharmacist orpatient from realizing the substantial and measurable benefits associated withe-prescribing today" (Cooley, CQ HealthBeat, 5/23).

The American Medical Association in early May at a forum sponsoredby the Brookings Institution's Engelberg Centerfor Health Care Reform discussed a set of standards that physicians wouldaccept for any e-prescribing requirement under Medicare. Steven Stack, an AMAboard member and emergency physician, called on lawmakers to ensure that CMS releasesa final rule for e-prescribing standards by the end of 2009. The agency in Aprilissued three standards and intends to release three more. Stack also said thatphysicians should be permitted at least two years to implement e-prescribingtechnology before they are subject to Medicare payment reductions and thatlawmakers should allow exceptions for physicians with small practices, ruralphysician offices and emergency cases. AMA also called for the removal of a Drug Enforcement Administration rule that would prohibit e-prescribing ofcontrolled substances (Kaiser Daily HealthPolicy Report, 5/12).

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The letter's authors included SureScripts, WellPoint and the NationalAssociation of Chain Drug Stores, CQ HealthBeat reports. Advocates for nationwideimplementation of an e-prescribing system say it would benefit the existingsystem and also help save lives.

Senate Finance CommitteeLetter

In a separate letter to theSenate Finance Committee, which currently is drafting aMedicare package to address the adoption of e-prescribing by physicians underMedicare, officials from the American College of Cardiology said that e-prescribing is a"necessary tool that will improve patient safety by reducing medicalerrors, decrease adverse drug events, reduce hospitalizations, improve patientadherence and increase patient satisfaction." The letter urged Congress tomove on an "expedited" and "date-certain" time frame fornationwide adoption of an e-prescribing system by the end of 2011 but said lawmakersshould allow exceptions for physicians with small practices, rural physicianoffices and emergency cases.

According to CQ HealthBeat, ACC officials already have asked HHS todevelop the final three rules for e-prescribing standards by the end of 2009,in addition to the standards announced last month. Patrick Hope, ACC'slegislative policy director, said that initial adoption of the system forMedicare patients will lead to wider adoption. He said, "If you're apractice, you probably wouldn't have one type of system for private payers andone for Medicare, and Medicare being the largest payer" would facilitate abroader acceptance of the technology (CQ HealthBeat, 5/23).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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