Following passage of bill, many more doctors expected to e-prescribe

WASHINGTON Under H.R. 6331, doctors will receive financial incentives to switch to e-prescribing, according to Reuters. Only about 6 percent of U.S. doctors currently e-prescribe, even as more than 70 percent of retail and mail order pharmacies are able to handle e-prescriptions.

“We hope it will be like going from a horse and buggy to a bullet train, making patient safety and the efficiency of the system enormously improved,” said Dr. Steven Stack, a board member of the American Medical Association.

“Prescriptions will be instantly transmitted to the pharmacist, hopefully ready when the patient arrives. And technology will hopefully help to avoid unintended consequences from drug-to-drug interactions or allergies. It also definitely eliminates physician handwriting as a problem,” Stack said.

President Bush vetoed the legislation on the government’s Medicare health insurance program that contained the e-prescribing incentives on Tuesday, but the House of Representatives and Senate immediately voted to override his veto and enact the measure.

The bill raises Medicare payments to doctors who e-prescribe, with a 2 percent bonus in 2009 and 2010, a 1 percent bonus in 2011 and 2012 and a 0.5 percent bonus in 2013.

The measure will also penalize doctors who do not e-prescribe, with a 1 percent Medicare payment penalty in 2012, a 1.5 percent penalty in 2013, and 2 percent in 2014 and thereafter.

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