All physicians in Florida could soon be required to write and submit prescriptions electronically. State Rep. Amber Mariano (R- Pasco), is sponsoring a bill that would cut the number of exemptions allowed in the current e-prescribing program. Mariano’s bill eliminates exemptions like financial hardship and one-year waivers.
“I think it makes sense for us as a state to have uniformity across the state, when it comes to prescriptions. Not having it be mandatory for some and not mandatory for others,” She said.
Congress passed legislation mandating e-prescribing from certain medicinal drugs beginning in 2021 under the Medicare Part D program. Mariano would like Florida to take it a step further by requiring e-prescribing for all medications, unless there is a technical difficulty preventing a doctor from prescribing electronically or if the patient is receiving the services at a free clinic.
Jarrod Fowler, Director of Health Care Policy for Florida Medical Association, believes current legislation is enough. He says eliminating the current exemptions would not be in the best interest of patients or doctors.
“We have heard from countless physicians who tell us that, ‘We wish the state would do everything possible to reduce the crushing regulatory burden they face.’ We have not heard from a single physician anywhere at any time who has told us that, their patients or their practice would better off if only they were required to prescribe all medications electronically under every single circumstance,” He recently testified before the House’s committee.
The proposal comes with a price tag that the Florida Dental Association says would hit practices the hard. According to the association, startup costs of an e-prescribing program can be up to $500 with an additional charge of $65 per physician a month.
“This legislation would legislate an unfunded mandate on providers and remove their ability to make a business and practice decision that should be at their discretion on how they submit their prescriptions for their patient,” says the FDA Chief Legislative Officer Joe Ann Hart.
The bill has also raised concerns among advocates who would prefer written prescriptions. Many older Floridians prefer to have paper prescriptions and feel that it’s simpler system. Rep. Kimberly Daniels says having user-friendly options is important.
Daniels says, “I’m a senior and sometimes I have trouble getting around on the internet.”
Opponents of the bill say it could restrict a patient’s ability to shop around for an affordable price. Mariano says e-prescriptions are new and different, but can be efficient and cost effective. According to the Florida Center for Health Information and Transparency Agency for Health Care Administration, the annual e- prescribing rate for 2018 was 75.7%.