While 2018 brought the nation’s first drop in drug-associated deaths in 25 years, the next two years were grim, setting a new record for mortality in 2019 and 2020 with pre-pandemic opioid death rates already staggeringly high. The combination of an immense loss during the global pandemic, recent increases in drug-related deaths, and demands to change the way healthcare is delivered is significantly and continually affecting the future of controlled substance prescriptions. With drug overdose deaths reportedly increasing 30% in 2021, EPCS can help curb the national crisis via individual state mandates.
CMS’s EPCS Legislation: Where Are We Now?
With the healthcare landscape rapidly shifting, gone are the days of handwritten prescriptions. The U.S. government has already taken measures to address the ongoing drug abuse crisis with greater controls around prescription opioids and the expansion of treatment and recovery options. Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances (EPCS) is one measure, requiring that clinical prescribers write controlled medications electronically. EPCS began in 2010 as a proposal by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to block the abuse of controlled substances by creating a more transparent and accountable system for prescribers and pharmacies.
January 1st, 2021 was the original deadline for states to comply with federal EPCS mandates. However, in 2021, due to complications of COVID-19, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) extended enforcement of EPCS-certified E-Prescribing software for Medicare Part D until January 1, 2023. Unsurprisingly, CMS is still encouraging adoption as soon as possible before practices are hit with penalties for non-compliance. At the same time, at least half of the United States now falls under individual state mandates. Whether your state has current requirements or not, it’s only a matter of time before deadlines and mandates affect your practice. To ensure compliance with EPCS mandates, the process should be undertaken proactively as it may take several months to gather all of your necessary information and find a certified solution.
Where Individual States Stand on EPCS Legislation in 2021
In 2016, New York was the first state to enact legislation addressing EPCS due to 2,166 drug overdose deaths in the previous year. In 2018, the state reported its first decline in drug-related deaths since 2009, a 4.1% reduction from 2017. Other states have since followed suit and with EPCS regulations in place, saw similar trends of drug-related deaths declining—of note are some of the previously-hardest-hit states such as Maine, Connecticut, Delaware, and West Virginia. As of January 2022, the U.S. states that have currently instituted EPCS mandates include:
- California – 1/1/2022
- Colorado – 7/1/2021, Dentists & Rural Prescribers: 1/1/2023
- Indiana – 1/1/2022
- Kansas – 7/1/2021
- Maryland – 1/1/2022
- Michigan – Compliance Enforcement: 1/1/2023
- Nebraska – 1/1/2022, Dentists: 1/1/2024
- New Hampshire – 1/1/2022
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- Utah – 1/1/2022
- Washington – 1/1/2022
- West Virginia
These states can provide data regarding EPCS, proving that electronic or e-prescription tools are much more than an efficient and transparent method to prescribe; they’re also effective in the prevention against drug overdoses. Providing a “paper trail” of comprehensive medication history at providers’ and pharmacists’ fingertips, EPCS helps to inform and improve prescribing decisions and help reduce overprescribing, overuse, and resulting drug addiction. EPCS also improves the security of controlled substance prescriptions, helping to reduce fraud and diversion. This is underscored by the fact that e-prescribing is now part of the “Every Prescription Conveyed Securely” mandate.
EPCS State Mandate Deadlines in 2022
Providers should be aware of upcoming deadlines and be proactive in preparation for these deadlines, as the collection of materials may take several months unless you are using a third party that can expedite the process. As of January 2022, states with 2022 deadlines are below, with a few additional states set to enforce compliance in 2023.
Your healthcare institution should stay vigilant about state mandates. Follow your state’s guidelines to stay up to date.
Are you ready to meet the EPCS requirements? RXNT’s award-winning Electronic Prescribing software satisfies all federal and state regulations and is certified by the DEA to support EPCS. Our cloud-based software is a five-time Surescripts award-winner, is ONC-ACB certified, and meets or exceeds all HIPAA requirements. With simple pricing, you’ll get fully-integrated solutions, 24/7 cloud-based access, premium in-house setup and support, mobile applications for iOS and Android, and regular system upgrades. Reach out for more information and a convenient, free demonstration of our fully certified e-prescribing software.
The information in this article is current as of January 2022 and is for general information purposes only. RXNT makes no warranties or representations of any kind, express or implied, about the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information in this article. RXNT assumes no liability for any damages caused by inaccuracies in this content. All users should consult with their jurisdiction for the most up-to-date and accurate information about any existing or pending legislation.