A group of five GOP Senators, led by Senator John Thune (R-N.D.), say they are still waiting a formal response from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on a whitepaper they wrote back in April outlining several concerns with implementation of the Health Information Technology and Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act and the efforts to deploy health IT.
Thune, in a note on his website, said the Senators (Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), and himself) hadn’t yet received any comments or response from HHS to date on the whitepaper. They requested a response by June 16.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius did respond to the senators in comments at a Senate Finance Committee budget hearing to the whitepaper, telling them, “We haven’t gotten to implementation of Stage 2 yet. You might be reading the final chapter before we launch it.” The Senators recognized this in Thune’s note.
Thune acknowledged that there were number of industry stakeholders, including various vendor and provider groups, the responded to the original whitepaper. He said that those groups agreed with the senators that interoperability requirements under meaningful use are a major barrier to data exchange. He also noted frustration from physician groups on the fact that meaningful use requirements don’t take into account the scope or size of a practice, and that EHRs are entirely usable.