California’s eRx mandate takes effect Jan. 1

December 02, 2021
Area(s) of Interest: Health Information Technology 

Beginning on January 1, 2022 – less than one month from today – almost all prescriptions written in California must be transmitted electronically. Physicians who have not yet implemented electronic prescribing in their practices should begin the process now. 

The electronic prescribing mandate was contained in a law passed by the California State Legislature in 2018. The bill (AB 2789) had a three-year delayed implementation to allow physicians and other prescribers the opportunity to select and implement an electronic prescribing platform. But the delay ends at the end of this year.  

The law is partially based on the Medicare electronic prescribing for controlled substances (EPCS) requirement. Although the Centers for Medicare and Medciaid Services in the 2022 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule delayed implementation of the EPCS requirement for an additional year, to January 1, 2023, that does not have any direct effect on the state requirement. 

Much of the language of California's requirement was copied straight from the federal regulations. Unlike the Medicare requirement, however, the state mandate applies to almost all prescriptions, not just those for controlled substances. In that respect, the state mandate is much broader than the Medicare one and will affect many more physicians. 

The California Medical Association (CMA) opposed AB 2789 when it was being debated in the legislature and offered the author possible amendments that would have created some accommodations in the law. But the proposed amendments were rejected, as the Legislature saw AB 2789 as just an extension of the Medicare requirement. 

To help physicians understand the new e-prescribing requirements, CMA published an FAQ, “Frequently Asked Questions: California’s Electronic Prescribing Mandate,” available to members-only. You can also click here to see the Medical Board of California's information and resources. 

CMA also hosted a webinar, Preparing for California’s Electronic Prescribing Mandate, which is now available for on-demand viewing.

CMA members are also always welcome to call the CMA Member Helpline at (800) 786-4262 to request one-on-one assistance. 


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