Washington Debrief: Health IT Provisions Included in 21st Century Cures Bill Passed by the House

Dec. 5, 2016
Last week, healthcare took center stage yet again as the House of Representatives passed a significant piece of legislation that will greatly impact health IT.

Health IT Provisions Included in 21st Century Cures Bill Passed by the House

Key Takeaway: Last week, healthcare took center stage yet again as the House of Representatives passed a significant piece of legislation that will greatly impact health IT.

Why It Matters: The 21st Century Cures Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation largely focused on medical research and changing the approval process for new drugs and medical devices, contains several health IT-related provisions, including directives that aim ensure patients are accurately linked to their medical records.

The bill also addresses interoperability and improved transparency of the EHR certification process. CHIME issued a statement in support of the bill, which the Senate is expected to take action on early next week.

A crosswalk of the health IT provisions from last week’s House-passed bill, the 21st Century Cures legislation that first passed the House in July 2015, juxtaposed to those approved by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) are represented in a table here. The legislation provides the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) a number of directives with specific deadlines, many of which are outlined here.

Trump Nominates Dr. Tom Price to Lead HHS, Seema Verna to Head CMS

Key Takeaway: President-elect Trump tapped Representative Tom Price, M.D. (R-GA) as his choice to serve as the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Why It Matters: Dr. Price has been a proponent of important reforms to the Meaningful Use program, including pushing for a 90-day reporting period and expanding opportunities to obtain a hardship exemption.

CHIME issued a statement last week pledging to work with the incoming leadership team at the Department of Health and Human Services. The President-elect also announced Seema Verma, MPH, to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS.) Verma brings extensive experience working within Medicaid, including for the state of Indiana, the home state of Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

Meaningful Use Comparison Cheat Sheet Chart

Key Takeaway: Come 2017 there will be three sets of Meaningful Use requirements. 

Why it Matters: Struggling to makes heads or tails of the various and changing sets of Meaningful Use requirements?  CHIME has you covered.  Check out our new comparison chart that compares the three sets of different requirements.  For Medicaid providers, unfortunately the most aggressive set of requirements adopted under Stage 3 are still intact.  CMS has finalized significant changes for Medicare hospitals, however, which will provide substantial relief and flexibility.  For instance, computerized physician order entry (CPOE) and clinical decision support (CDS) while mandatory for Medicaid providers, is no longer a requirement for Medicare hospitals and will not be required under MIPS.  CIOs should also be aware of the different reporting periods.  CMS has adopted a 90-day reporting period for Medicaid providers and Medicare hospitals in 2016 and 2017 but has not yet adopted this for 2018, something CHIME continues to push.  However, CMS has adopted a 90-day reporting period for the Meaningful Use section of MIPS (known as Advancing Care Information) for 2017 and 2018. Moving into the new year, CHIME will continue to advocate for synchronization across programs and greater flexibility all around. Want to chat MACRA? Drop us an email – we want to hear from you.



Key Takeaway: Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issues cyber warning.

Why it Matters: On November 28, 2016 OCR issued a listserv announcement warning covered entities and their business associates about a phishing email that disguises itself as an official communication from the Department. The email prompts recipients to click a link regarding possible inclusion in the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Rules Audit Program, and directs individuals to a non-governmental website, marketing a firm’s cybersecurity services. The phishing email originates from the email address [email protected] and directs individuals to a URL at http://www.hhs-gov.us. This is a subtle difference from the official email address for OCR’s HIPAA audit program, [email protected].

As our readers know, OCR is gearing up for the second round of audits. They have notified select business associates of their inclusion in the Phase 2 HIPAA audits.  For more information on the HIPAA Phase 2 Audits visit their website.

Telehealth Addressed in House and Senate Last Week

Key Takeaway: Telehealth proposals continue to garner interest from lawmakers in the House and Senate.

Why It Matters: Lawmakers continue to explore ways to overcome obstacles impeding the expansion of access to telehealth services and reimbursement despite pushback from the Congressional budget office.

In the House, in addition to the telehealth provisions included in the House-passed 21st Century Cures bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), contains provisions that will impact the Department of Defense’s (DoD) telehealth policies. The bill passed by the House last week instructed the DoD to enhance access to and the use of telemedicine within 18 months of enactment as a means to improve access to care and improve communication between patients and their providers. The bill suggests services including secure messaging and home health monitoring via tablets, computers and other devices for evaluation, diagnosis and treatment supervision. A provision in the Senate version of the bill that required a provider using telehealth services to be licensed where they are practicing not necessarily where the patient is located was removed.

The Senate, last week, voted 97-0 to pass legislation that would require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to examine potential uses of telehealth to address workforce areas in underserved and rural areas. The Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act (S. 2873) would provide the foundation to expand a small telehealth program meant to connect specialists with rural health facilities. Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX), a physician, introduced the companion bill last June, but the House has yet considered the legislation.