In my Dec. 27 post, I referenced a letter from HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt to members of Congress regarding EHRs and the planned 10.1% Medicare physician fee cut for 2008 that eventually was postponed for six months.
I said that the letter was not available online. I was wrong. Here it is.
It seems I confused that letter, from Leavitt to Senate Finance Committee leadership, with another one from members of the Senate regarding e-prescribing. In the latter correspondence, 19 senators asked Attorney General Michael Mukasey to push the Drug Enforcement Agency to revisit its ban on electronic prescribing of controlled substances.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) issued a press release about that Dec. 17 letter. The letter followed a Dec. 4 hearing on the topic in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In the interim, on Dec. 10, the Justice Department included electronic prescriptions for controlled substances on its semi-annual regulatory agenda (see page 70083). That means expect a proposed rule change within the next six months.
As the Washington regulatory machine plods along and the presidential primary season kicks into high gear, please don’t ask me to make any predictions on the EHR/Medicare issue, or, for that matter, on the Medicare fee debate now on hold for a few months.
I will say again, however, that I believe Congress seems to have the will to make major changes to Medicare about once a decade, and that already happened this decade with the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003. Call me cynical (and many have), but I don’t see anything big happening in a presidential election year.
Meanwhile, I’m trying to arrange something super cool: a ride-along in an all-digital ambulance. Hopefully not as a patient. Stay tuned.