eRX Waiver Deadline is October 18

Physicians wishing to avoid administrative penalties for failing to comply with the new electronic prescribing (eRX) mandate have until October 18 to submit a waiver application to the Board of Pharmacy (BOP). Starting January 1, 2020, nearly all prescriptions in the State of Iowa must be issued electronically. There are a handful of prescription types exempt from this mandate, which are delineated in new BOP rules that took effect earlier this month. In addition, Iowa Code allows the BOP to issue one-year waivers for individual prescribers who meet eligibility criteria including financial hardship, technological limitations, or “other exceptional circumstances.”

At its September meeting, the BOP approved the first round of approximately 30 eRX waivers. In doing so, the board members sought to broadly interpret its waiver authority. The board approved waivers for retired and semi-retired physicians wishing to retain prescriptive authority, as well as physicians volunteering in free clinics or with local athletic teams. While the BOP website lists a list of purportedly free eRX systems that was compiled as a result of a Request for Information the board issued to EHR vendors, it was discovered during the meeting that nearly all of the free systems require the prescriber to first purchase that company’s EHR system and the only identified mobile eRX system requires the prescriber to already have an EHR system in place.

Circumstances of many of the eRX waiver recipients were never considered when the board adopted its original rules. BOP staff have indicated that they will seek to expand the list of permissible exceptions in the board’s administrative rules and the BOP is considering legislation next session to further address issues with the mandate.

Prescribers and clinic administrators are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with the eRX requirements and adjust practice procedures to comply with the new state mandate, which largely mirrors the Medicare Part D eRX mandate that takes effect January 1, 2021. More information on the Iowa mandate, including an extensive FAQ document, is available on the BOP website.

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