CMS announces two new Medicare regulations

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services revealed two regulations today that strengthen recent efforts to link payment to quality of care and initiate an incentive program to push physicians to adopt electronic prescribing systems.

The electronic prescribing rule stems from Medicare physician payment legislation enacted in July giving physicians who e-prescribe a bonus equal to 2 percent of their total Medicare charges in 2009.

CMS also put in place a final hospital outpatient regulation that the agency says emphasizes the need for Medicare not to pay hospitals for care necessitated by injuries or illnesses caused by a hospital outpatient stay. CMS said it expects to propose rejecting payment for what the agency calls hospital outpatient healthcare-associated conditions as official policy. A similar approach is under way in the hospital inpatient setting.