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E-Prescribing is a prescriber's ability to electronically send an accurate, error-free and understandable prescription directly to a pharmacy from the point-of-care - is an important element in improving the quality of patient care. The inclusion of electronic prescribing in the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) of 2003 gave momentum to the movement, and the July 2006 Institute of Medicine report on the role of e-prescribing in reducing medication errors received widespread publicity, helping to build awareness of e-prescribing's role in enhancing patient safety.  Adopting the standards to facilitate e-prescribing is one of the key action items in the governments plan to expedite the adoption of electronic medical records and build a national electronic health information infrastructure in the United States.

The MMA created a new voluntary prescription drug benefit under Medicare Part D. Although e-prescribing will be optional for physicians and pharmacies, Medicare Part D will require drug plans participating in the new prescription benefit to support electronic prescribing.

Standards Timeline

• On November 7, 2005, CMS published the first set of adopted standards known as the foundation standards.  The foundation standards became effective on January 1, 2006.  These standards apply to all electronic prescribing done under Part D of the MMA.
• MMA required CMS to implement pilot projects to test additional standards.  These additional standards were pilot tested in 2006.
• On June 23, 2006 CMS published an interim final rule with comment to adopt NCPDP SCRIPT Standard version 8.1 on a voluntary basis to be used for e-prescribing.
• The results of the pilot test were announced in a report to Congress in April 2007 and were the basis for an NPRM proposing additional standards that was published on November 16, 2007.
• The final e-prescribing rule was published at the Federal Register on April 7, 2008.  In this final rule CMS adopted 3 additional standards for use in e-prescribing under part D.
• On January 2009 CMS published a final rule, In this reg the Medicare Part D e-Prescribing foundation standards were updated to include:  
    o The National Council for Prescription Drug Programs Telecommunication Standard Specification, Version D, Release 0 for eligibility queries between dispensers and Part D sponsors.
    o The Accredited Standards Committee X12N 270/271-Health Care Eligibility Benefit Inquiry and Response, Version 5010; For eligibility and benefits queries and responses between prescribers and Part D sponsors.
• On November 18, 2008 CMS Published the 2009 Physician Fee Schedule Payment Final Rule. In that payment reg CMS lifted the exemption to the Computer Generated Fax (CGF) exemption. CMS listed a date of January 1, 2012 for the elimination of the CGF exemption.
• On July 01, 2010 CMS published an interim final rule with comment to adopt NCPDP SCRIPT Standard version 10.6 on a voluntary basis to be used for e-prescribing.
• 2013 the PFS final rule adopted the Script Version 10.6 standard effective (10/1/13)
    o Retires Version 8.1
    o Lifted the Long Term Care Exemption effective(10/1/14)
• 2014 the PFS final rule adopted a newer version of the NCPDP Formulary and Benefits 3.0 transaction effective 2/28/15 and it also retires NCPDP Formulary and Benefits  version 1.0 on 3/1/15.