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Washington Debrief: NHIT Week in Review

September 24, 2013
by Jeff Smith, Director of Public Policy at CHIME
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CHIME Celebrates NHIT Week with Policy Retreat, Senate Briefing

Twelve CHIME CIO members traveled to Washington last week to set objectives for future CHIME public policy efforts and to meet with Senate staff to talk about Meaningful Use timing. Over the course of a two-day retreat, CHIME Public Policy determined key areas of focus and is working on an action plan for the next several months. Collaborating with partners in federal agencies and on the Hill will continue to drive much of CHIME’s work in Washington, but new efforts are under way to get more CHIME CIOs involved with standards work. Several recommendations are in development and will be presented to all CHIME members during the Fall Forum, pending CHIME Board review.

Many CIOs who participated in the Public Policy retreat also met staffers from two prominent Senate committees and staff from several offices to discuss the timing for Meaningful Use in 2014. Two panels of CIOs took Senate staff through the process of EHR implementation, from beta-testing to EHR optimization. CHIME CIOs said it takes several months to train users and redesign workflows to incorporate new technology. CHIME has indicated previously to Senate staff that there is not enough time before July 2014 to implement 2014 Edition EHRs and ensure Meaningful Use program success. Last week, CHIME delivered letters, signed by more than 40 CHIME members in four states, echoing similar concerns to their senators. CHIME has called for a 12-month extension to the MU reporting window, which has subsequently been echoed by a half dozen provider organizations, including the AHA, AMA and AAFP.

Senators from the Finance and Health, Education, Labor & Pensions committees are openly considering a recommendation to HHS that would ask for a 12-month extension. If you are interested in supporting this cause, please contact Jeff Smith at

Senator Reintroduces Bill to Include Behavioral Health Providers in MU

In the wake of the recent tragic mass shooting– this one close to our nation’s capital – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) reintroduced the Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act of 2010 (S 3709) to improve these types of care. It’s now called the Behavioral Health Information Technology Act (S 1517). Sen. Whitehouse hopes to include professionals that provide substance abuse treatment, behavioral healthcare and mental healthcare in the Meaningful Use incentive program to encourage the adoption and meaningful use of electronic health record technology.

According to the CMS website, Eligible Professionals (EPs) under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs include:

  • doctor of medicine or osteopathy;
  • doctor of dental surgery or dental medicine;
  • podiatrists, optometrists and chiropractors;
  • nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and dentists;
  • and physician assistants who furnish services in a FQHC or Rural Health Clinic that is led by a physician assistant.

“The Behavioral Health Information Technology Act would… Expand eligibility for Medicaid meaningful use incentive payments to include community mental health centers, mental health and substance abuse treatment facilities, psychiatric hospitals, licensed psychologists and licensed clinical social workers,” according to Sen. Whitehouse’s press release.

ONC Rolls Out New Patient Consent for eHIE Website

Do patients constantly ask about their rights under HIPAA? Does your front desk have a difficult time explaining privacy rules to patients? As health information exchange technology continues to evolve, ONC has launched a website to educate patients about what they are calling “meaningful consent.” The website will detail consent options for patients and explain who can or cannot access or send their patient records. Another section of the website answers common questions on state and national laws for privacy and security.

ONC’s website states that consent decisions should be: