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Medicare Announces New Federal EPCS Mandate Deadline

Medicare Announces New Federal EPCS Mandate Deadline

posted by: Nicole Hovey date: Dec 22, 2020 category: Blog comments: Comments Off on Medicare Announces New Federal EPCS Mandate Deadline

Many health providers, including behavioral health providers and addiction treatment professionals, use electronic prescribing for medications. Amid the U.S. opioid crisis, these so-called e-prescriptions have become vital for helping to reduce fraud and errors associated with paper prescriptions.

E-prescriptions allow a provider’s orders to be entered automatically into their EHR, becoming accessible to the pharmacy and payers. Providers and pharmacies can use this information to identify behaviors associated with addiction or opioid misuse.

E-prescribing has become even more important in the age of COVID-19, when many providers used telehealth appointments and cannot write patients a paper prescription. It also helps those patients and clients who are unwilling or unable to enter a pharmacy with a paper prescription.

To help reduce the potential for opioid abuse associated with paper prescriptions, many states have implemented mandates for providers to use electronic prescribing for controlled substances (EPCS). The mandates went federal in 2018, when President Donald Trump signed the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act to address opioid misuse and addiction. Part of this law requires EPCS for all controlled substances under Medicare Part D by January 1, 2021.

New EPCS developments

On December 1, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized the Requirement for Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances (EPCS) for a Covered Part D drug under a Prescription Drug Plan or an MA-PD plan rule. Although this takes effect January 1, 2021, the compliance date has been set for January 1, 2022.

Under this final rule, the establishment of penalties to a future proposed rule have been deferred, with a comment period. Such penalties will not be enforced until January 1, 2022, at least.

Under Section 2003 of the SUPPORT Act, starting January 1, 2021, the prescribing of any Schedule II-V controlled substance under Medicare Part D must be done electronically, as part of an electronic prescription drug program. To help implement this provision, CMS requested information and stakeholder feedback in July 2020, including EPCS exceptions and possible penalties for noncompliance. Using the responses, CMS will draft separate rules for implementation.

CMS notes that prescribers will be required to use the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) SCRIPT 2017071 standard for EPCS prescription transmissions. Part D plans are already required to support this standard.

Take note that the federal requirement to implement EPCS and use a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) by January 1, 2021, is separate from, and in addition to, any state mandates. Eleven states also have mandated EPCS, effective the same date.

We’ve written about EPCS previously on the BestNotes blog. Feel free to check out some of those posts if you haven’t already.

BestNotes EHR Solutions Offer PDMP

BestNotes EHR users can use the e-prescribing features to access their state’s PDMP. Using BestNotes’ e-prescribing capabilities with state PDMPs helps you provide appropriate, high-quality care to your behavioral health and addiction treatment clients while staying compliant.

BestNotes EHR and CRM solutions are tailored specifically for mental health and addiction treatment providers, with e-prescribing and other medication management options. Contact us today to learn more.

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