CMS Implementation of Rule Mandating E-Prescribing of Controlled Substances in 2021 is Right Move for Public Health

WASHINGTON – The Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) applauded an announcement by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that it would make a rule mandating e-prescribing of controlled substances effective on January 1, 2021.

The e-prescribing rule stems from the SUPPORT Act legislation passed by Congress in 2018 to address the nation’s opioid crisis.  CMS announced the timetable for implementing the rule as part of the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule released yesterday, December 1. There was speculation that, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, implementation of the e-prescribing rule might be delayed until 2022.  HLC had strongly advocated for the earlier 2021 effective date.

“CMS struck the correct balance on this issue by implementing the rule at the start of 2021 while beginning compliance enforcement in 2022. That provides ample time to make the transition from paper-and-pen to electronic prescribing and for the government to set a fair and effective compliance process in place,” said HLC president Mary R. Grealy.

She added, “The use of e-prescribing is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal to successfully confront substance misuse. It enables the kinds of safeguards and prescription tracking that paper-based prescribing does not, allowing healthcare systems and law enforcement to employ real-time monitoring of possible prescription abuse. The sooner we put this public health asset into effect, the better.”

HLC and partner organizations originally called for e-prescribing of controlled substances in an “Opioid Solutions Roadmap” released in 2018.


For Immediate Release
December 2, 2020
Contact: Kelly Fernandez  202-449-3452