The SUPPORT Act (Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act) requires that controlled substances prescriptions covered under Medicare Part D be transmitted electronically. The effective date for compliance was set for January 1, 2021. Does this mean that pharmacies can no longer accept paper/faxed prescriptions?

First of all, the Act only applies to prescribers (not pharmacies) and requires them to have technology that supports e-prescribing. There are a number of exceptions to the requirement that a controlled substance prescription must be transmitted electronically. For example: prescriptions for hospice patients, for dual patients residing in skilled nursing facilities, emergency circumstances (as determined by the prescriber), or if a prescriber has a waiver. The Act and its guidance specifically states that pharmacies can continue filling scripts issued for a legitimate medical purpose by an individual practitioner acting in the usual course of their professional practice. Therefore, the responsibility for compliance rests on the prescribers and not on pharmacies.

Secondly, CMS announced that due to the Covid outbreak, it will delay compliance until 2022 to allow prescribers ample time to install and test the technology. The announcement states that no penalties will be imposed until that time.

Pharmacies may continue accepting Part D prescriptions for controlled substances transmitted by means other than e-prescribing platforms as long as all other requirements are met.