In one of my earlier blog posts, I mentioned that carrots and sticks could be coming in connection with the adoption of health information technology.  Well, yesterday afternoon the Senate passed the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (H.R. 6331) which proposes that Medicare physicians who use e-prescribing technology would be eligible for incentive payments of:

  • 2% in fiscal year 2009 and 2010
  • 1% in FY 2011 and 2012 and
  • 0.5% in 2013.

Physicians participating in Medicare who do not e-prescribe by 2012 would see a 2% payment cut!   The bill permits the Secretary to establish a hardship exception to providers who are unable to use a qualified e-prescribing system. Also, it proposes that a Government Accountability Office (GAO) be established to report on the effect of the e-prescribing incentives included in the legislation. 

H.R. 6331 now goes to President Bush for signing . . .  or veto.  

Some reports indicate that President Bush has long-threatened to veto the bill due to his opposition to the way in which the bill relies on certain Medicare Advantage cuts to offset the costs of the bill.  But, because yesterday more than two-thirds of the Senate voted to support the bill, both the House and the Senate have now passed the bill with enough support to overturn any veto.  Under the U.S. Constitution, if the President fails to sign the bill within 10 days, it automatically becomes law without his signature.