September 23, 2019 | FAH Policy Blog Team
Alarmed that HHS implementation of the information blocking provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act) are not ready for prime time, FAH, along with six other organizations representing clinicians, hospitals, health systems, health informatics and health information management sent letters to congressional leaders today. They called on lawmakers to ensure the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) effectively and appropriately implements the law.
“It is imperative that we get this right to realize the promise of health IT and improve the quality and efficiency of care provided to patients while reducing provider burden," said FAH President and CEO Chip Kahn.
Adding, “FAH supports the goals of the Cures Act to further interoperability by ensuring the appropriate movement of clinical data among health care providers and other stakeholders and ensuring patients have access to their data. However, ONC’s proposals to implement this important legislation – particularly the information blocking provisions – threaten to hinder rather than advance interoperability and will lead to significant confusion among health care providers and patients.”
Specifically, the letter recommends that the regulations implementing the Cures Act incorporate the following:
• Additional rulemaking prior to finalization: To ensure a sufficient level of industry review and to appropriately respond to stakeholder feedback, ONC should issue a supplemental rulemaking to address outstanding questions and concerns.
• Enhanced privacy and security: The proposed rule does not sufficiently address the Cures Act’s directives to protect patient data privacy and ensure health IT security. Further, it is imperative that the Committee continue its oversight of privacy and security issues that fall outside of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulatory framework.
• Appropriate implementation timelines: ONC should establish reasonable timelines for any required use of certified health IT (CEHRT). Providers must be given sufficient time to deploy and test these systems, which must take into account competing regulatory mandates.
• Revised enforcement: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services should use discretion in its initial enforcement of the data blocking provisions of the regulation, prioritizing education and corrective action plans over monetary penalties.
The complete letter to Senate leaders can be viewed here. A similar letter was sent to leaders in the House.