At the beginning of the new year, family doctors started facing a 1 percent cut in Medicare reimbursement if they hadn't nixed their paper-based prescription pads in favor of an electronic version. The change is part of another piece of the federal health-care reform law taking effect, USA Today reports.
"There will be a significant number of folks that will incur the penalty," said Robert Tennant, senior policy adviser with the Medical Group Management Association.
E-prescribing, which allows physicians to generate, transmit and file patient prescriptions, is part of the federal government's effort to get doctors to use electronic health records. Last year, doctors received bonuses from Medicare and Medicaid to set up EHRs, but this year they will start being penalized if they haven't already done so — 1 percent this year, 1.5 percent in 2013 and 2 percent in 2014.
Another piece of the federal health care reform law that will begin falling into place in 2012 involves Medicare's Shared Savings Program, "under which groups that qualify as accountable care organizations will be eligible for shared savings in 2013," USA Today reports. "Under the program, savings from participants in an ACO — including hospitals and doctors working together to improve patient care and reduce costs — would be shared between Medicare and the providers."
One study showed Kentucky already has three ACOs established, though several Kentucky experts have said no ACOs have been formed in the state yet.
Jan. 1 also marked the beginning of consumers being eligible for rebates if their insurer spent less than it should have on medical care. As per the new law, insurers have to spend 85 percent for large group plans and 80 percent for small groups and individuals on medical care as opposed to administrative and other costs. Kentuckians will not be privy to these rebates this year, however. Kentucky got a one-year break from the rule after applying for an exemption. (Read more)