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Washington Debrief: Agency Seeks Input on Quality Reporting and CEHRT

January 11, 2016
by Leslie Kriegstein, Interim Vice President of Public Policy, CHIME
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Congressional Affairs

President Obama Signs Bill Expanding Meaningful Hardship Exemption Authority

Key Takeaway: Meaningful Use program participants will now have additional pathways to seek a hardship exemption for the 2015 program year resulting from the law signed by President Obama on December 28, 2015.

Why It Matters: One of Congress’ final acts before adjourning for 2015 was the passage of the Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act (S. 2425), which included narrowly-focused language to expand the authority of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to issue hardship exemptions for the 2015 program year.

The legislation enables CMS to grant hardships not just on a case-by-case basis, but also to "categories" with the deadline of March 15, 2016, for eligible professionals (EP) and April 1, 2016, for eligible hospitals (EH), after which time CMS would still have the case-by-case authority to grant hardship exemptions until July 1, 2016.

CMS has not yet released the hardship exemption applications for the 2015 program year for EPs or EHs. CHIME staff will continue to work with CMS to disseminate resources and information concerning 2015 program year attestation and hardship exemptions as it becomes available.

Federal Affairs

Agency Seeks Input on Quality Reporting and CEHRT

Key Takeaway: CMS publishes RFI seeking feedback on quality reporting and CEHRT; CHIME schedules workgroup calls

Why it Matters: CMS recently released a Request for Information (RFI) seeking input on quality measure reporting and certified EHRs. Comments are due to the agency by February 1. The RFI focuses on numerous quality reporting programs including, but not limited to, the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) Program and the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS). CMS is also seeking input on how often to require recertification, the number of clinical quality measures (CQMs) a certified Health IT Module should be required to certify to, and testing of certified Health IT Module(s).

Medical Devices and Cybersecurity Take Center Stage at FDA Workshop

Key Takeaway: FDA posts agenda for event on devices, cybersecurity

Why it Matters:  The workshop, “Moving Forward: Collaborative Approaches to Medical Device Cybersecurity,” will span two days, January 20-21. The workshop will bring together diverse stakeholders to discuss complex challenges in medical device cybersecurity. The meeting will be held at the FDA campus in Silver Spring, MD, and will be webcast.

Office for Civil Rights Issues New HIPAA Guidance

Key Takeaway: The guidance addresses patient access to their protected health information (PHI)

Why it Matters: In an era of growing consumer and patient engagement, patient access to information is taking center stage. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released new guidance on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements late last week. The guidance takes aim at clarifying patients’ rights to accessing their information under the law and associated rules. OCR posted a short blog detailing why they published this information noting, “Far too often individuals face obstacles to accessing their health information, even from entities required to comply with the HIPAA Privacy Rule. This must change.” They also indicated that this is just the first in a series of new guidance they plan on releasing. Specifically, the newly published guidance details general patient rights to accessing their information both on paper and electronically, processes for requesting access, form and format data must be shared, denial of access, denying access to patient information, timelines for providing access, as well as, a series of frequently asked questions associated with these topics.

Executive Order on Gun Violence Impacts HIPAA

Key Takeaway:  HHS releases HIPAA rule on national background checks and White House releases executive action on gun violence