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Washington Debrief: President Trump Takes Two Executive Actions Impacting Healthcare

January 23, 2017
by Leslie Kriegstein, Vice President of Congressional Affairs, CHIME
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New Administration Update

President Trump Took Two Executive Actions Impacting Healthcare

Key Takeaway: President Trump and his senior leadership took two executive actions impacting healthcare. 

Why it Matters: President Trump on Jan. 20 signed an executive order that could open the door for federal agencies to curtail some aspects of the Affordable Care Act. In particular, the order aims to reverse "unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens" resulting from the ACA. Many aspects of the ACA are engrained in statute, so at this point it is still unclear exactly what actions agencies can take without an act of Congress. 

A second executive action described in a memo from the President's chief of staff calls for a freeze on pending regulations. The freeze applies to regulations that have been sent to the Federal Register but have not yet been published, as well as, those have been published but have not yet taken effect.

The new White House website is up and running, but content is still being populated. Those interested in signing up for updates from the new administration can do so at the homepage.

HHS Nominee Discusses EHRs, Telehealth Before Senate Committee

Key Takeaway: President Trump’s nominee to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) appeared before the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee last week.

Why It Matters: A health IT advocate during his time in the House, Dr. Tom Price (R-GA-6), nominated by President Trump for serve as the Secretary of HHS, has begun his Senate confirmation hearings. Among the many topics discussed included the Meaningful Use program, EHRs, telehealth and reducing the regulatory burden on healthcare providers.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Dr. Price was asked by Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), a fellow physician, about what can be done to reduce the concerns about electronic health records negatively impacting the provision of care and about the Meaningful Use program pushing doctors into retirement. While Dr. Price acknowledged that the documentation burden on clinicians is often cited as a pain point, he noted that EHRs are important for innovation and are a valuable tool to create a complete health history of a patient. Dr. Price went on to say that the government’s role should be to facilitate interoperability, ensuring that the systems talk to each other. He also suggested that the government work with clinicians to understand what can actually be measured, so alleviate unnecessary documentation for quality reporting.

Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) told Dr. Price that there is bipartisan interest in EHRs and the Meaningful Use program. Chairman Alexander expressed is specific concern about what has been put forth for Stage 3 of Meaningful Use and cited concerns about the program’s timeline.

Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) asked Dr. Price about the future of telemedicine. Dr. Price answered that telehealth is an exciting invention, especially useful to improve access to care in rural and underserved areas. Dr. Price suggested supporting policies that may accentuate the use of telehealth, reminding the Committee that today providers often shoulder the cost of providing telehealth services instead of being reimbursed through federal programs.

Dr. Price is scheduled to appear before the Senate Committee on Finance on Tuesday, January 24th at 10:00 a.m. ET. The Committee is likely approve his nomination and refer it to the Senate floor for consideration by the full Senate.

Quality Update

eCQM Changes Coming

Key Takeaway: CMS announced several changes to their electronic clinical quality measures (eCQM) policies.

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