CMS Final Rule Outlines Requirements for E-prescribing of Controlled Substances

To help reduce the potential for opioid abuse associated with paper prescriptions, many states have implemented mandates for providers to use electronic prescribing for controlled substances (EPCS). The mandates went federal in 2018, when President Donald Trump signed the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act to address opioid misuse and addiction. Part of this law requires EPCS for all controlled substances under Medicare Part D by January 1, 2021. On December 1, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized the Requirement for Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances (EPCS) for a Covered Part D drug under a Prescription Drug Plan or an MA-PD plan rule. Although this took effect January 1, 2021, the compliance date has been set for January 1, 2022. Under this final rule, the establishment of penalties to a future proposed rule have been deferred, with a comment period. Such penalties will not be enforced until January 1, 2022, at least. Under Section 2003 of the SUPPORT Act, starting January 1, 2021, the prescribing of any Schedule II-V controlled substance under Medicare Part D must be done electronically, as part of an electronic prescription drug program. CMS notes that prescribers will be required to use the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) SCRIPT 2017071 standard for EPCS prescription transmissions. Keep in mind that Part D plans are already required to support this standard and the federal requirement to implement EPCS and use a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) by January 1, 2021, is separate from, and in addition to, any state mandates. Eleven states also have mandated EPCS, effective the same date.

Staff Contact: