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The 2021 Support Act Amendment: What Prescribing Providers Need to Know


Staying up to date on prescribing regulations and keeping compliant can be an arduous task, especially when it comes to all the legislature surrounding electronic prescribing and the DEA. Today, we’re looking at the Support for Patients and Communities Act, also known as the Support Act, which lays out the law of the land for electronic prescribing of controlled substances.  

In April of 2018, Congress made major amendments to the Support Act. These revisions require all US-based health facilities to adopt electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS) for all regulated substances covered in Medicare Part D. Let’s break down the 2021 changes to the Support Act that will affect e-prescribing and your role as a healthcare organization.  

Congress on Capitol Hill where legislation like the Support Act is passed. 
Staying up to date on the requirements of EPCS compliance is important for all organizations dealing with controlled prescriptions. 

Overview of the Support Act  

The Support Act constitutes consolidated bills that aims to eradicating opioid abuse. The Act’s primary aim is to spread awareness of opioid abuse and seek ways to mitigate the negative trend. Major stakeholders in the medical industry, medical health centers, and insurance companies are affected by the Act. The most prevalent bill on the Act is the illegal prescribing of opioids and other restricted drugs to prevent prescription fraud.   

Other medical concerns covered in the Support Act include:  

  • Treatment for people suffering from opioid addiction  
  • Enrollees in Medicare must undergo opioid screening  
  • EPCS for all substances classified in schedule ll-V  
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) should cover substance abuse and mental health  
  • CMS should educate all Medicare beneficiaries  

The Support Act is a key legislative move that ultimately helps healthcare technologies demonstrate meaningful use while, in tandem, helping prescribers prevent prescription fraud like doctor shopping.  

Changes Effective in 2021 

The changes per the new amendment will allow easy access to legitimate treatment to US citizens while clamping down on the use of illicit drugs. The required adoption of EPCS will help health systems be more efficient and make this goal achievable. The new system requires the adoption of the following techniques:  

  • All prescribers of controlled substances MUST use an EHR or electronic prescribing application that is EPCS certified.  
  • Before a user is given log-in credentials for their EPCS system, they must provide proof of their identity and their authority to use the system 
  • Similarly, once a prescriber does have access to their prescribing system, they must provide two-factor identification to sign a prescription.  
  • Logical access controls as outlined by the DEA must be in place ensuring only those registered with the proper authorities are able to gain entry to the system. 
  • Prescribing organizations or software solutions must continuously audit their EPCS compliance, reporting any outlying events or security incidents to the DEA.  
  • Finally, all electronic prescriptions for controlled substances must be submitted to the pharmacy in a timely manner.  

Furthermore, every two years, electronic prescribing solutions must undergo an audit performed by a third-party. Penalties per violation will be enforced by CMS. As a healthcare organization, it’s is recommended you regularly check in with your EHR about their EPCS compliance and ask about the results of their third-party audit.  

Originally, the enforcement deadline for this amendment was January 01, 2021. However, in order to offer healthcare organizations more flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, this deadline was pushed back to January 01, 2022.  

Keeping Compliant 

It is largely the responsibility of the technology providers to maintain EPCS compliance per the Support Act. However, it is still important for healthcare agencies working with these kinds of prescriptions to understand what is required and what is at stake. To learn more about TenEleven’s electronic prescribing tools and compliance measures schedule a demo today.  

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