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D.C. Report: ONC Looking to Create New Health IT and ACO Subcommittee

December 11, 2012
by Jeff Smith, Assistant Director of Advocacy at CHIME
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Jeff Smith, Assistant Director of Advocacy at CHIME

ONC Looking to Create New ACO Subcommittee as Part of Health IT Policy Committee The Health IT Policy Committee met for their monthly meeting this week in Washington and during an extensive review and update on projects and programs, ONC announced they were taking preliminary steps to establish a subcommittee on HIT and ACOs.  The subcommittee would be charged with making recommendations to the HITPC on how health IT can support the business needs of accountable care models.  Specifically, the subcommittee would be expected to make a series of recommendations on ways in which ONC can take steps to align with and support the business needs of ACO models.  According to presentation materials, the next steps include collecting lessons from the ONC-led ACO working group; drafting proposed activities for a subcommittee and consider membership of group.

CMS Details ‘Episodes of Care’ for Bundled Payment Program The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) recently released a preliminary list of 48 “episodes of care” they are willing to include as part of various Bundled Payment for Care Improvement (BPCI) models.  The list was compiled from feedback provided by those providers who had applied to the program earlier this year.  Some of the episodes of care included in the preliminary list are Heart attack, hip and knee surgery, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and renal failure.  According to government officials, these 48 episodes will be applicable to Bundled Payment models 2, 3 and 4.  Model 2 pays providers retrospectively beginning at an inpatient stay and ends at either 30 or 90 days post-discharge.  Model 3 is similar to model 2 except that it only includes “post-acute” care; and Model 4 is designed so that CMS pays a “single, prospectively determined bundle that encompasses all services furnished during the stay, including physicians.”  Model 1 was abandoned earlier this year, and would have allowed hospitals to develop their own unique episodes of care.

GOP Docs Caucus Gets New Leadership, Holds Old Line on ACA Repeal In an announcement made recently, the GOP Doctors Caucus named Rep. Phil Roe (Tenn.) as co-chair of the caucus with Rep. Phil Gingrey (Ga.) following an announcement by Rep. Tim Murphy (Penn.) that he would step down from the position.  Rep. Murphy is the new chairman of the Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight.  In addition, Rep. Diane Black (Tenn.) will fill the vice chair spot that Roe vacated to become co-chair.  In a statement, Roe said, “Our priority remains a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, but we will work together to address some of the worst parts of the legislation and to find ways to lower the cost of medical care, repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board, implement meaningful medical malpractice reforms and fight fiercely to preserve the doctor-patient relationship.”

New House Bill Looks to Advance mHealth Industry The first week of December was the week of mobile health in Washington.  The mHealth Summit was held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center during the first part of the week and over 4,000 attendees packed the event to talk about business, policy and technology related to mobile health applications.  While the business case and technology development side of mHealth is an intriguing subject, mHealth policy is what will make either of the two possible on a broad-base scale.  According to Summit attendees, there were three major policy conversations around mobile apps and healthcare: security/safety, market impacts and convergence.  In a nicely-timed release, Representative Mike Honda (D-Calif.) unveiled the Healthcare Innovation and Marketplace Technologies Act, which calls for the creation of a new Office of Wireless Health at the FDA and mandates the creation of a prize program to incentivize mHealth app development.  The Silicon Valley-based Representative believes his bill will provide small-to-large innovators and entrepreneurs an opportunity to overcome barriers to entering the healthcare technology space.  As part of this effort, the bill establishes the Office of Wireless Health at the FDA, charging the agency to develop a “predictable regulatory framework on wireless health issues.”  And in an effort to boost adoption, the bill creates, “a low-interest small business loan program to clinics and physician offices for the purchasing of new health information technologies and services,” Rep. Honda said in a statement.  “It also creates a tax incentive program that allows medical care providers to deduct costs related to non-EHR health care information technology.”

CIOs Offer Perspectives during Washington Forums Addressing separate audiences this week, Bill Spooner and Michael Martz shared their organizations’ experiences on topics ranging from balancing innovation in patient care with budget constraints to the challenges of achieving Meaningful Use.  As a panelist in the Technology Crossroads Conference for the session on C-Suite challenges, Sharp Healthcare Senior VP and CIO Bill Spooner described how C-suite planning must juggle many priorities, including the internal factors of upgrading clinical systems and assuring patient privacy to external environmental factors.  Technology Crossroads, sponsored by the National eHealth Collaborative, focused on the intersection of HIT and digital media.  CHIME served as a cosponsor.