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Washington Debrief: Senate Committee Moves Ahead with Medical Innovation Legislation, Including Health IT

April 11, 2016
by Leslie Kriegstein, Vice President of Congressional Affairs, CHIME
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Congressional Affairs

Senate Committee Moves Ahead with Medical Innovation Legislation, Including Health IT and Precision Medicine Bills

Key Takeaway: Last week the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) wrapped-up committee-level discussions on the Innovation for Healthier Americans initiative, which included proposals to advance precision medicine and improve nationwide interoperability, sending the package of bills to the Senate floor for consideration.

Why It Matters: In 2015, the Senate HELP Committee held six hearings on health information technology and a series of markups resulting in the consideration of 19 legislative proposals as part of the Innovation for Healthier Americans initiative.

Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has said that the Committee is still working to reach bipartisan agreement to increase funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which has been a top priority for Democrats’ in their consideration of the package of legislation. Committee leadership is hopeful that a funding agreement can be reached quickly in order to bring the 19 bills to the floor along with more mandatory funding for NIH in April. 

Among the 19 bill is the Improving Health Information Technology Act (S. 2511) which includes the TRUST-IT Act (S. 2141) would make more information available on the capabilities and cost of certified electronic health records (EHRs) for purchasers, prohibit information blocking and seek to enhance nationwide interoperability.

Federal Affairs

Can’t Get Enough of Interoperability?

Key Takeaway: ONC Request for Information (RFI) Seeks Input on Interoperability

Why it Matters: The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) sets an objective to achieve the widespread exchange of health information through interoperable, certified EHRs. The law also calls on HHS to create metrics in consultation with the public to determine if this objective has been met.  ONC is seeking input on:

  1. What populations and elements of information flow should we measure?
  2. How can we use current data sources and associated metrics to address the MACRA requirements?
  3. What other data sources and metrics should HHS consider to measure interoperability more broadly?

The public comment period closes on June 3, 2016. Read more on ONC's Health IT Buzz Blog or view the request for information

How You Doin’?

Key Takeaway: 2015 Mid-Year QRURs Available and 2016 PQRS GPRO Registration Now Open

Why it Matters: CMS recently released the 2015 Mid-Year Quality and Resource Use Reports (QRURs). The reports contains information on a subset of the measures used to calculate the 2017 Value Modifier for clinicians. The Mid-Year QRUR provides interim information about performance on the six cost and three quality outcomes measures that CMS calculates from Medicare claims. These are some of the measures used in the calculation of the Value Modifier. The information in the report is based on care provided from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015, a period that precedes the actual calendar year 2015 performance period for the 2017 Value Modifier.  They reports are for informational purposes only and won’t affect a provider’s payments.   More information about the Mid-Year QRUR can be found on the 2015 QRUR and 2017 Value Modifier web page.

Speaking of payments, clinicians are subject to a cut under this in 2018 based on 2016 performance unless they can successfully meet the reporting criteria.  Avoiding the 2018 PQRS payment adjustment by satisfactorily reporting via a PQRS GPRO is one of the ways groups can avoid the automatic downward payment adjustment (-2.0% or -4.0% depending on the size and composition of the group) and qualify for adjustments based on performance under the Value Modifier in 2018. Groups can register to participate in the 2016 Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) Group Reporting Option (GPRO) via the Physician Value - Physician Quality Reporting System (PV-PQRS) Registration System. More information is available on the PQRS Payment Adjustment Information web page.


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