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High-Ranking Senator Seeks Overview of HIE Program

January 9, 2015
by Gabriel Perna
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A spokesperson for Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) confirmed that the high-ranking politician will seek a review of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s (ONC) State health information exchange (HIE) program.

The news was first reported by Politico.

The spokesperson did not go into detail on what Sen. Alexander is hoping to accomplish with the review. He is working with Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) on the request. The HIE program, which ended last year after four years, saw the ONC dole out nearly $600 million in grant funding to 56 states and territories to establish statewide HIEs.

Alexander, the new Chair of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (as predicted by CHIME’s Jeff Smith in November), has long been involved in health IT regulatory matters. In March of last year, he and other Senators sent a letter to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. seeking further clarity and transparency on how the agency plans on regulating medical mobile health. He has also been part of a group of Senators, including Burr and Enzi, that have questioned the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on the trouble of Stage 2 of meaningful use. They even called for a reboot of the program in 2013.

The HIE program was recently reviewed by the NORC at the University of Chicago. The authors of the report found that the program had done a lot to progress data exchange at a statewide level since it began in 2010, but technical and sustainability challenges still remained for even the most advanced states.

Healthcare Informatics will have more on this story as it develops.

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