Washington Debrief: 21st Century Cures Passed by Senate, Heads to President’s Desk

Dec. 12, 2016
A landmark piece of healthcare legislation, with a number of health IT provisions, was passed by the Senate with a vote of 95-4 and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.


21st Century Cures Passed by Senate, Heads to President’s Desk

Key Takeaway: A landmark piece of healthcare legislation, with a number of health IT provisions, was passed by the Senate with a vote of 95-4 and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

Why It Matters: The 21st Century Cures Act contains a number of provisions of interest to that nation’s healthcare CIOs that will help pave the way to greater interoperability and improve electronic health information exchange.

The bill contains several CHIME-supported provisions that address the critical issues of accurately identifying patients and matching them to their health records. The absence of national solutions for patient identification and patient matching not only pose serious risks to patient safety, but also lead resources being wasted on cleaning up duplicative medical records, as well as creating other inefficiencies. In addition to a Government Accountability Office report on currently patient matching activities, the legislation also includes a directive to a new Health IT federal advisory committee to evaluate how to achieve a health information infrastructure, nationally and locally, that allows for the electronic access, exchange and use of health information technology, including through technology that provides accurate patient information for the correct patient, including exchanging such information, and avoids the duplication of patient records.

CHIME also strongly supports the language in the bill that will create a more transparent process for certifying electronic health record systems; a process that will include real-world testing for interoperability. This will add a layer of confidence that health IT systems are capable of supporting the transition to a more integrated and value-based delivery system.

The healthcare innovation legislation passed the House on November 30th and was approved by the Senate on December 7th, passing both bodies with overwhelmingly bipartisan margins.

A summary of the health IT provisions and a timeline of actions directed by the legislation are available on the CHIME website.

Zika Takes Center Stage

Key Takeaway: The federal government is throwing their resources behind addresses public health issues like Zika through a series of activities.

Why It Matters: Health IT has proven to be a valuable asset in response to public health and other emergencies and the federal government has taken notice.

First, CMS has announced $66.1 million in funding to support prevention activities and treatment services for health conditions related to the Zika virus. Those eligible to apply are Entities eligible to apply for this funding opportunity are states, territories, tribes or tribal organizations, with active or local transmission of the Zika virus, as confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Details can be found here.

Second, the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) is taking a special interest in the topic and looking for ways to support the Zika response through the use of health IT including building on lessons learned from Ebola response and the MERS response, algorithm development, vocabulary Sets, order sets, and vendor outreach.


NIST Guidance on IoT

Key Takeaway: NIST recently published cybersecurity guidelines for the Internet of Things (IoT).

Why it Matters: In NIST’s new guidance, “Systems Security Engineering: Considerations for a Multidisciplinary Approach in the Engineering of Trustworthy Secure Systems (publication 800-160),” Systems include medical devices.  NIST notes systems security engineering “ultimately performs security analyses with the appropriate fidelity and rigor to produce the evidence to substantiate claims that the system is adequately secure. The evidence spans the entire system life cycle and for all system life cycle concepts.”

Quality Measurement

Relief Available to Providers Impacted by Hurricane Matthew

Key Takeaway: CMS offers relief to those hit by Hurricane Matthew.

Why it Matters: CMS intends to grant quality reporting data submission exceptions to Medicare providers in several care settings adversely affected by the devastating impact of Hurricane Matthew, including post-acute care (PAC) settings such as Long-Term Care Hospitals (LTCHs), Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (IRFs), Hospice, and Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs). For the specified reporting quarter(s), as indicated in the full communication posted on the respective CMS QRP Reconsideration and Exception and Extension websites, affected providers will not be required to submit quality measure data to meet submission requirements.  CMS is exercising its authority to grant exceptions for data submission requirements for the PAC quality reporting programs (QRP) for providers located within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)-designated “major disaster” counties of Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina.  View the list of FEMA-designated counties and further information on the CMS webpages for your setting:

Meaningful Use / MACRA

New Information Available!

Key Takeaway: Been wondering where those pesky spec sheets are? CMS just posted them!

Why it Matters: CMS has posted the spec sheets and new resources for Modified Stage 2 and Meaningful Use Stage 3 – links to all are below. CHIME takes the guess work out helping you navigate the three sets of Meaningful Use requirements starting in 2017 with our handy comparison chart.