Latest Tally: CMS Pays Out More Than $400 Million in PQRS, Electronic Prescribing Incentives

May 04, 2011 05:00 pm News Staff

CMS has released 2009 data on results from the Medicare Physician Quality Reporting System, or PQRS -- formerly known as the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative -- and its electronic prescribing, or e-Rx, program. The resulting incentive payments put nearly $400 million into the pockets of family physicians and other program participants.

According to CMS(, nearly 120,000 physicians and other eligible health care professionals in more than 12,000 practices received more than $234 million in incentive payments in 2009 for successfully reporting quality measures data. This amount is well above the $36 million paid to physicians and other eligible professionals in 2007, which was the first year of the program, said CMS. "On average, 2009 bonus payments for satisfactory reporters in the Physician Quality Reporting System were $1,956 per eligible professional and $18,525 per practice," said CMS.

On average, participation in the PQRS has grown by about 50 percent every year since the program began in 2007, said CMS.

"The significant growth in the Physician Quality Reporting System shows us that the health care community shares CMS' commitment to improving the quality and safety of care our beneficiaries receive," said CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, M.D.

CMS also said health care professionals in the program are complying more often with evidence-based care practices. "These increased reporting rates could signal a positive trend in the quality of health care Medicare beneficiaries receive from professionals who report data through the Physician Quality Reporting System," the agency said.

"Based on reported data on the 55 measures that have been a part of the (PQRS) since it began in 2007, providers have improved the frequency for which they deliver recommended care by about 3.1 percent on average. Similarly, of the 99 measures that were part of the (PQRS) in 2008 and 2009, performance improved (by) about 10.6 percent on average."

CMS also announced that it paid out $148 million to more than 48,000 physicians and other eligible health care professionals in 2009 for its e-Rx program. Physicians and other health care professionals in the e-Rx Incentive Program( receive incentive payments for successfully prescribing medications electronically.

Eligible professionals who were successful e-prescribers received an average bonus payment of more than $3,000 per individual and $14,501 per practice.