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Washington Debrief: Slavitt Asked to Give Providers 90-Day Reporting in MU During MACRA Hearing

May 16, 2016
by Leslie Kriegstein, Vice President of Congressional Affairs, CHIME
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Key Takeaway: Representative Tom Price, M.D. (R-GA-06) called-on the Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Andy Slavitt to give Meaningful Use program participants a 90-day reporting period.

Why It Matters: In his first Congressional Committee appearance since the release of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act proposed rule last month, Acting Administrator Slavitt took questions from lawmakers on a few topics of interest for the CIO community, including Meaningful Use program flexibility, information blocking and unique device identifiers (UDI.) Acting Administrator Slavitt rebutted Dr. Price’s call for a 90-day reporting period, by citing the reporting period as an item that agency is seeking comment on, suggesting stakeholders provider their feedback through the formal comment process.

Largely, the hearing held by the Health Subcommittee of the Committee on Ways and Means last Wednesday, featured members sincere concerns about the potential for the policies in proposed MACRA rules do not unfairly impact small and solo healthcare practitioners.

In response to a series of questions on Meaningful Use from Representative Erik Paulsen (R-MN-03), Slavitt cited the shift from Meaningful Use to the new Advancing Care Information performance category under the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) will allow providers to focus more clearly on patient interaction and facilitate the free flow of healthcare data. Asked if the move to ACI will facilitate interoperability, Slavitt cited open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and a focus on combatting information blocking practices. Slavitt said doctors want to share information, but are too often victims of what their technology allows them to do.

ONC Monies on the Table

Key Takeaway: ONC is making more funding opportunities available.

Why it Matters: Last week ONC announced two pilot programs and one challenge.

  1. Pilot Projects: Participants in both pilots are expected to deliver results within one year and are intended to catalyze the implementation of standards and technology that can be used to: improve the sharing of health information among health care stakeholders; improve care delivery; and demonstrate how health IT can positively impact patient experience.  Both pilots will test standards and technology solutions focused on certain priority areas. In both cases the funding opportunities are open from now until July 8, 2016. Letters of intent are due by June 10th. Questions can be directed to
    1. The High Impact Pilots (HIP) Cooperative Agreement Program: Interested applicants are encouraged to attend the Information Session from 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET on May 23 (HIP).
    2. The Standards Exploration Award (SEA) Cooperative Agreement Program: The total funding available for SEA awards is $250,000 (no less than 3 awards and no more than 5 awards are expected).  The award period is expected to be a 12-month period of performance. Interested applicants are encouraged to attend the Information Session  2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET on May 26.
  2. Move Health Data Forward Challenge: ONC initiated this challenge to stimulate the work around consumer-mediated exchange.  The Move Health Data Forward challenge will have three phases, with a cumulative prize amount of $250,000 and a maximum prize value per participant of $75,000. There will be a webinar about the Challenge held on June 7 from 3-4pm EST (more info forthcoming from ONC on this).  Submission Dates: 12 a.m. ET, May 10, 2016 - 11:59 p.m. ET, Sep 08, 2016.

OCR Ransomware Guidance Coming

Key Takeaway: Deven McGraw, Deputy Director Health Information Privacy, HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR), announced forthcoming guidance on ransomware attacks.

Why it Matters: The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has cyber security in their cross hairs.  They recently published a cyber awareness monthly update.  And, they announced they are releasing cyber security guidance soon. We will share that when it becomes available.