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Washington Debrief: Happy National Health IT Week!

September 26, 2016
by Leslie Kriegstein, Vice President of Congressional Affairs, CHIME
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Health IT Week

Key Takeaway: Today marks the start of National Health IT Week, an annual celebration and coordinated advocacy campaign to articulate the importance of health information technology.

Why It Matters: Advocacy events are taking place across the country and on Capitol Hill this week, including the congressional briefing CHIME will host on Tuesday titled, “Connected Care - Leveraging Healthcare Technology to Improve Health at Any Age.”

If you have not visited CHIME’s Congressional Advocacy Portal, this is the week to do it! You can use the Advocacy Portal to weigh-in on particular legislation or to share your stories about how your organizations have leveraged health information technology to improve healthcare, or  your experience with Meaningful Use or quality measurement.  Policymakers want to hear from you and they value your experience.


Government Funding Proposal Includes Demands for VA’s VistA

Key Takeaway: In the republican government funding proposal, demands the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) tell Congress how they plan to upgrade Veterans Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) or any future electronic health record system, provide timeline and cost estimate.

Why It Matters: The federal government is currently funded through September 30th, but Congress has yet to fund the government for Fiscal year 2017. Included in the short-term package, that would fund the government through December 9, was a directive for the VA to outline their future plans for any EHR system upgrade or acquisition. Further, Congress requested a report on how to achieve interoperability with the VA, non-VA providers and health information exchanges.

A sum of $260 million was included in the GOP-developed funding bill to modernize the Veterans Health Administration's EHR. In a variety of forums, VA officials have stated an intention to move forward with VistA in the near term and potentially pursue a commercial solution, as the Department of Defense (DOD) has done, in the future.

FDA App Challenge

Key Takeaway: FDA has issued a grant for an app that reduces opioid and heroin overdoses

Why it Matters: The FDA has kicked off a challenge to locate a mobile app solution to stemming opioid and heroin overdoses by increasing, “the likelihood that opioid users, their immediate personal networks, and first responders are able to identify and react to an overdose by administering naloxone, a medication that reverses the effects of opioid overdose.” Registration for the competition runs from September 20 through October 7.  The winner will receive a $40,000 prize.


FBI Alert

Key Takeaway: FBI issues new alert on ransomware.

Why it Matters: On September 15th the FBI issues a new alert on ransomware, “Ransomware Victims Urged to Report Infections to Federal Law Enforcement.” The FBI urges victims to report ransomware incidents so they can better understand threats. They also indicate that they do not support paying ransoms, however, they also note, “recognizes executives, when faced with inoperability issues, will evaluate all options to protect their shareholders, employees, and customers.” The alert calls on victims to contact their local FBI office and / or file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, at This alert follows their bulletin on ransomware published in April.

FDA 2017 Priorities Includes Devices

Key Takeaway: Listed among FDA’s regulatory science priorities for 2017 are security of medical devices. 

Why it Matters: Cybersecurity continues to nab headlines and medical device security remains at the forefront.  The FDA has listed, “Enhance the performance of Digital Health and strengthen medical device cybersecurity,” as among their top regulatory priorities.  FDA writes, “Digital health and cybersecurity are some of the fastest growing areas impacting medical devices. To ensure these technologies and technological environments achieve the desired public health impact, research is needed to enhance the performance and cybersecurity of medical devices and software” The full report can be found here.

Quality Measurement

CMS Registry News

Key Takeaway: CMS is developing a centralized repository for public health agency (PHA) and clinical data registry (CDR) reporting.