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Coming in January 2012
Watch for New Remittance Advice 'Remark Codes' Related to E-Prescribing
By Sheri Porter
CMS said the new remark code is effective on Oct. 1, but physicians won't see the code on remittance advices until Jan. 1, 2012. That's when physicians who did not successfully e-prescribe in 2011 will begin to see a 1 percent penalty amount subtracted from each Medicare remittance advice that comes back from their Medicare contractors.
In addition to the remark code indicating the assessment of a payment penalty, CMS has added a remark code to reflect the repayment of money withheld in error. Specifically, the remark codes and their descriptions are
- N545, which would indicate that the physician's payment was reduced based on his or her status as an unsuccessful e-prescriber per the Medicare e-prescribing incentive program, and
- N546, which would indicate that the payment represents a "give-back," or return of a previous e-prescribing penalty amount that was deducted in error.
There still is plenty of time for physicians to begin e-prescribing in 2012 and avoid future penalties. The penalty in 2013 will be 1.5 percent of total Medicare revenues; in 2014, the penalty increases to 2 percent.
With regard to other Medicare resources, CMS has provided three online links to resources physicians may find useful. Specifically, the agency has
- posted the form that physicians must fill out to request an exemption from Medicare's e-prescribing penalty;
- made available a manual (22-page PDF; About PDFs) that provides directions on how physicians can obtain their Physician Quality Reporting System, or PQRS, feedback reports; and
- created a manual (17-page PDF; About PDFs) to help physicians understand their e-prescribing feedback reports.
The call is set for Oct. 18 from 1:30-3 p.m. EDT and will target physicians and medical office personnel, medical coders, and other health care professionals. The event includes a question-and-answer segment. CMS will post registration information soon, or physicians can sign up to receive automatic e-mails regarding open-door forum schedule updates.
Deadline to Request Hardship Exemptions From Medicare's 2011 e-Prescribing Program Extended