Walmart Delays e-Prescribing Mandate After Physician Blowback

December 11, 2019


Walmart is walking back its previously announced plans to require electronic prescriptions at all Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies beginning January 1. A company spokesperson told USA TODAY that the retailer will continue accepting paper prescriptions after the New Year for an indefinite period, acknowledging that “not all provider networks and prescribers will have the technology and systems in place to accommodate this requirement,” and said the company did not want to unintentionally negatively affect patients.

The company recently announced the nationwide policy as part of its Opioid Stewardship Initiative.

In a November 22 letter sent to Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD and copy to Governor Bill Lee, TMA President Elise Denneny, MD expressed concerns that the well-intended policy could exacerbate the very problem it is designed to address and obstruct patient access, particularly for TennCare patients in rural areas of the state where Walmart may be the only pharmacy available.

Tennessee law does not require electronic submission of controlled substances by prescribers until January 1, 2021, and carves out several exceptions and a waiver process for hardship. Many Tennessee physicians are not yet equipped to e-prescribe and need additional time to prepare for January 2021, when both Tennessee and federal Medicare law will require electronic submission of controlled drug prescriptions.

TMA encourages any members who do not currently have the ability to e-prescribe controlled substance prescriptions in their practices to make the necessary investments in 2020.

More information on e-prescribing can be found in TMA’s online Law Guide (member login required), including topics on prescription laws and prescribing controlled substances electronically. Contact legal@tnmed.org with any questions.

TMA also worked with the American Medical Association on this issue.