As of August 31, physicians and other health professionals have until November 1 to file for the hardship exemption that would help them avoid penalties for not meeting the previously put forth eprescribing requirements.
According to research, roughly 100,000 physicians have yet to file for the exemption or have not made steps to integrate eprescribing software into their facilities.
"We are pleased that CMS has provided more flexibility under the exemption categories and that they have extended the deadline for physicians to apply for an exemption until Nov. 1," Cecil Wilson, the immediate past president of the American Medical Association, said following the announcement of the extension. "However, we had hoped for even greater flexibility, including an additional reporting period."
Doctors who meet certain criteria will be eligible for the waivers. These include any eligible professionals who are registered with the Medicare or Medicaid electronic medical record initiative programs or who have adopted EMR software.
In addition, medical professionals who aren't able to prescribe because of a local or state law, don't often prescribe medications and who don't meet the patient visitation requirements are also eligible to secure the waiver.
Many critics have taken aim at the original deadline, saying that it didn't allow physicians enough time to properly transition to the program.
However, doctors who have taken steps – but who may be behind on implementation – may want to secure the help of an independent company that could help them with training and installation. This is because facilities that report sending at least 25 eprescriptions by 2011 will earn 1 percent of their Medicare charges back in 2012.
On the other hand, those who don't comply to the new standards will see their Medicare payments reduced by 1 percent provided they don't fit into one of six exemption categories.