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D.C. Report: ONC Standards Committee Submits Recommedations

September 7, 2010
by Sharon Canner
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Better Program Access Goal of Committee. Meeting earlier this week, the HIT Standards Committee of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) accepted the recommendations of their Enrollment Workgroup to support the electronic enrollment of individuals in federal and state health and human services programs. Section 1561 of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 requires the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in consultation with the Health Information Technology (HIT) Policy Committee and the HIT Standards Committee, to develop interoperable and secure standards and protocols for this purpose. Given approval by both the Standards and Policy Committees, the recommendations now go to ONC for final action and implementation.

Work group recommendations include the following:

  1. Federal and state agencies should use the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) guidelines for “efficient and transparent” exchange of data between states.
  2. Recommendation for the development of a “Federal Reference Software” model so that federal agencies can efficiently share data with states regarding individual’s initial eligibility, and change in circumstances for ACA health insurance coverage options.
  3. The federal government should maintain a repository of business rules to administer ACA health insurance coverage options.
  4. Consumers should have timely access to their eligibility and enrollment data, and knowledge regarding how this information will be used by different programs and entities.
  5. State and other designated agencies should implement strong “security safeguards” to ensure privacy and security of personally identifiable information.

Upcoming HIT Advisory Committee meetings include Policy on Sept.14 and Standards on Sept. 21. Public participation in meetings is available via Web conference or audio teleconference. Instructions are provided on the ONC Web site.

Congress on Recess. When Congress returns Sept.14 from their Aug. recess, there will be little time left before their targeted adjournment of Oct. 8. Of the pending HIT bills, the Electronic Health Records Incentives for Multi-Campus Hospitals Act of 2010 (HR 6072) may have best chance of passage with its 31 bi-partisan co-sponsors. HR 6072 would correct an inequity in the meaningful use final regulation that financially penalizes hospitals that share a Medicare provider number. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) plans to introduce similar legislation in the Senate.