Today HHS announced the new regulations that are intended to support the adoption of e-prescribing and electronic health records. The press release states:
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) proposed rules announced today represent a unified effort to advance the goal of improving the health care of Medicare beneficiaries and all Americans through the use of e-prescribing and electronic health records systems.
CMS announced a new regulatory proposal that would create exceptions to the “physician self-referral” law. Currently, physicians in Medicare are prohibited from referring Medicare patients for certain health services to health care entities with which the physician has a financial relationship, unless an exception applies. Health care entities are also not allowed to bill Medicare for services that are furnished as a result of a prohibited referral.
These new proposals would allow hospitals and certain health care organizations to furnish hardware, software, and related training services to physicians for e-prescribing and electronic health records, particularly when the support involves systems that are “interoperable” and thus can exchange information effectively and securely among health care providers.
In a parallel action, the OIG announced proposed safe harbors for arrangements involving the donation of technology for e-prescribing and electronic health records. Arrangements for the provision of items and services that meet the requirements of the safe harbors would be exempt from enforcement action under the Federal anti-kickback statute.
Stay tuned! The proposed rules will be published in the October 5th edition of the Federal Register. Public comments will be accepted for 60 days.
Thanks to the HIPAA Blog for pointing me to the press release.
UPDATE (10/6/05): Today I received notice that the OIG posted a pre-publication copy of the proposed rule for a Safe Harbor for Certain Electronic Prescribing Arrangements Under the Anti-Kickback Statute. The official version is scheduled for publication in the Federal Register on Tuesday, October 11, 2005.
To get to the proposed rule point your browser here: http://www.oig.hhs.gov/authorities/docs/05/100605E-PrescriberuleC.pdf