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Washington Debrief: Examining the Latest Meaningful Use Announcement

February 9, 2015
by Jeff Smith, Vice President of Public Policy and Leslie Krigstein, Director of Congressional Affairs
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Top News
 
Public Policy Webinar Examines Latest MU Announcement, Other HIT Policy Drivers in 2015
 
Key Takeaway:  In light of the latest Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announcement concerning meaningful use, CHIME’s Public Policy team will host a webinar on Feb 12, 2015 at noon ET.  The webinar will also provide an outlook for major policy drivers in 2015, including cybersecurity, patient safety and ICD-10.  Register here.
 
Why it Matters:  Attendees will be able to ask questions of CHIME staff in Washington, DC and learn about opportunities to get involved with CHIME’s Public Policy initiatives.
 
With political swings in the Senate, new agency leadership at ONC / CMS and new Members of Congress, 2015 promises to be a big year for health IT policy.  New cybersecurity policy, Meaningful Use uncertainty, ICD-10 and the role of the FDA in regulating EHRs are just a few of the current issues facing the healthcare industry. Bring your questions to CHIME’s first quarterly debrief from the Nation’s Capitol
 
Join CHIME’s Vice President of Public Policy Jeff Smith and Director of Congressional Affairs Leslie Krigstein for a look ahead to the issues that will be driving Washington in 2015.  Click here to register.
 
Legislation & Politics
 
Anthem Breach Catches Eye of Congress
 
Key Takeaway: House and Senate leaders signal need for bipartisan cyber security reform in the light of the breach of 80 million health records.
 
Why It Matters: Carrying momentum forward from the 113th to the 114th Congress, meaningful cyber security reform appears to on the horizon as the Anthem attack garnered the attention of key Congressional leaders last week.
 
An announcement from Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) made clear the Committee’s intent to continue discussions on cyber threats, specifically in the area of healthcare and patient data. According to the statement, “The goal of the Alexander-Murray initiative is to examine whether Congress can help ensure the safety of health information technology, including electronic health records, hospital networks, insurance records, and network-connected medical devices, like pacemakers and continuous glucose monitors.”
 
Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX-10) Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, was quick to point out that this breach is just another reminder of the persistent threat that the country faces. And House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI-6) followed suit saying his committee would continue hold additional hearings on cyber crime. 
 
Lawmakers have continually echoed the need for a robust national information sharing network, standardized breach reporting and targeted liability protections to be present in legislative proposals. A number of federal agency-focused cyber preparedness legislation passed at the end of the 113th Congress, but a comprehensive reform package was unable to gather bipartisan support in both Chambers.
 
Administration
 
GAO Seeks Nominations for the Health IT Policy Committee
 
Key Takeaway: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is accepting nominations to fill vacancies on the Health IT Policy Committee, according to the notice published in the Federal Register on February 3.
 
Why It Matters: The Health IT Policy Committee is the most influential body of industry stakeholders, advising Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and CMS on topics ranging from meaningful use and EHR certification to quality measurement and the health IT needs of advanced care models.
 
With current participant terms expiring in April, the GAO is seeking nominations for four openings on the committee in the following categories of representation or expertise:
patient or consumer advocate; 
healthcare provider; 
health plan or third-party payer; and 
healthcare quality measurement and reporting. 
 
The federal advisory committee meets monthly and advises ONC on health IT policy issues. The Health IT Policy Committee was created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The Comptroller General selects 13 of the Committee’s 20 members.
 
If you are interested in being considered for the Health IT Policy Committee and would like a letter of support from CHIME, please contact Jeff Smith, Vice President, Public Policy.
 
Letters of nomination and resumes should be submitted, by Feb. 27, via e-mail to HITCommittee@gao.gov or via mail to ATTN: HITPC Appointments, U.S. GAO, 441 G Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20548.
 
HHS and ONC Announce $28 Million in HIE Grants for Interoperability
 
Key Takeaway: Last week, HHS and ONC announced a two-year, $28 million grant program for HIEs that demonstrate projects to enhance community-based interoperability initiatives.
 
Why It Matters: These additional funds will target established organizations and help them invest in next-generation exchange capabilities and services.
 
HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced the grant program before the ONC Annual meeting last week saying, the grants will fund “innovative community-based solutions to advance standardized, secure and interoperable movement of health information across organizations, vendors and geographic boundaries”
 
This new funding opportunity announcement (FOA) will invest $28 million to increase the adoption and use of interoperable health IT tools and services to support the exchange of health information.  The grant program is only a piece of a Department-wide effort to enhance the safe and secure exchange and use of electronic health information to improve healthcare.  ONC will award 10 to 12 grants in the form of cooperative agreements with states and state-designated entities.
 
 

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