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Washington Debrief: 2016 Election Recap

November 14, 2016
by Leslie Kriegstein, Vice President of Congressional Affairs, CHIME
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Trump to be the 45th President, House & Senate Controlled by Republicans

Key Takeaways: The republicans will control the House, Senate and White House when President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in on January 20, 2017.

Why It Matters: A single party hasn’t controlled Congress and the White House since 2009-2010, thus the ability to enact legislation is significantly eased. Promises of repealing the Affordable Care Act and improving healthcare for the nation’s veterans top the list of healthcare-related campaign priorities for President-elect Donald Trump.

As Congress recessed before the election there was a great deal of interest and intent to dive deeper into health information technology issues with the arrival of a new Congress. Health IT has historically received significant bipartisan interest and support, but the advancement of some technology-related priorities may initially take a backseat as Congress evaluates next steps on the Affordable Care Act.

One of the big healthcare programs to watch is the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), which establishes a new payment structure for Medicare physicians, which passed by a wide bipartisan margin in 2017, and goes into effect on January 1, 2017. MACRA, along with a number of other delivery system reform efforts rely heavily on the implementation and optimization of health IT. MACRA, the Meaningful Use program and other ongoing delivery system reform programs will likely stay on Congress’ radar, regardless of the election outcomes, in 2017.

CHIME expects that irrespective of what happens in Washington, health IT will continue to be viewed as an important care tool to enhance clinical decision making by clinicians and empower patients. Issues such as cybersecurity and interoperability are likely to be priorities for Congress and the incoming Trump Administration and CHIME stands ready to serve as a trusted resource to policymakers.

The election by numbers, (as of November 11):

  • Electoral College: Trump 279, Clinton 228, 31 Electoral Votes Undecided
  • Popular Vote: Clinton 59,938,290, Trump 59,704,886
  • Senate: Republicans 51, Democrats 46, Independents 2, 1 Race Undecided
    • Net Gain of 2 seats for Democrats
  • House: Republicans 238, Democrats 193, 4 Races Undecided
    • Net Gain of 6 seats for Democrats

Interoperability

ONC Submits Annual Report to Congress, Requests New Authorities to Combat Info Blocking

Key Takeaway: In their annual report to Congress, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) outlined additional authority they deem necessary to thwart information blocking.

Why It Matters: As mandated under the HITECH Act, ONC submitted their annual report with a few requests of Congress to provide them with enforcement authority, something they currently lack suggesting that enhanced responsibilities can improve transparency and accountability in the health IT marketplace.

In addition to outlining the current electronic health record (EHR) adoption rates across the nation’s hospitals and healthcare providers, the report to Congress outlined efforts to improve interoperability, which included a nod to “promoting common, federally-recognized standards.” On the subject of patient identification as it relates to interoperability, the report mentioned an ONC challenge that supports work on “the identification and testing of standards for matching patients to their data across clinical and claims data sets, and the incorporation of algorithms that can be used to reliably perform patient matching in these contexts.”

The report also expressed concerns about the industry’s struggles to protect and secure electronic health information. ONC explained that security protections have been able to match the speed of health IT innovation, especially in smaller and rural organizations.


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