Federal Spending Package Has Health IT Implications

December 10, 2014 in News

A continuing resolution omnibus spending bill, or “cromnibus,” to fund most of the federal government will not affect ICD-10 or the meaningful use program, but it does include several health IT provisions, Politico‘s “Morning eHealth” reports (Gold, “Morning eHealth,’ Politico, 12/10).

Overall, the 1,603-page spending bill includes $1.1 trillion to fund all federal government agencies except for the Department of Homeland Security through September 2015 (AP/Washington Times, 12/10).

‘Cromnibus’ Does Not Include ICD-10, Meaningful Use Language

According to Health Data Management, the spending bill does not contain provisions to delay the ICD-10 compliance date or adjust the meaningful use incentive reporting period for 2015, as advocated by some groups (Goedert, Health Data Management, 12/10).

U.S. health care organizations are working to transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 code sets to accommodate codes for new diseases and procedures by Oct. 1, 2015.

In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the Medical Society of the State of New York, the Texas Medical Association and the National Physicians’ Council for Healthcare Policy asked to delay the ICD-10 implementation until October 2017.

The groups urged Boehner to work with House Rules Committee Chair Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-Mich.) “to have this [delay] added to a must-pass piece of legislation during the upcoming Lame Duck Session in 2014.”

According to sources familiar with lawmakers’ discussions, Sessions discussed the possibility of including an ICD-10 provision in the budget agreement with House leadership.

Meanwhile, several prominent groups — including the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society and the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives — have been pushing CMS and lawmakers to adjust the 2015 meaningful use reporting period from a full year to 90 days.

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (iHealthBeat, 12/9).

Health IT Provisions in Spending Package

The federal spending package has implications for military health IT and rural health IT efforts, “Morning eHealth” reports.

For example, the bill would require the departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense to submit reports to Congress on their progress in updating their EHR systems.

Under the bill, DOD only would be able to spend 25% of the funding allocated to its Defense Health Program until it reports on its plan to achieve interoperability with VA’s health systems, including the implementation timeline and cost estimate of its new EHR system.

In addition, the package would allocate $14.9 million to the Health Resources and Services Administration to help small, rural hospitals adopt health IT. HRSA also would receive an additional $1 million to fund telehealth.

Meanwhile, the spending bill also includes $10.3 million for the Department of Agriculture to fund broadband transmission in rural areas for telehealth and distance learning programs.

The package would allocate about $60 million for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, less than the $75 million requested by the White House (“Morning Health,” 12/10).

House Aims for Thursday Vote, Congress Might Need Stop-Gap Measure

Congress has until Thursday to pass the bill to avert a government shutdown (iHealthBeat, 12/10). According to Politico, Boehner is working to hold a vote on the measure on Thursday, but Congress might need to pass a short-term continuing resolution to avoid a shutdown while giving the Senate enough time to consider the bill (Rogers, Politico, 12/10).

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) has said she would not rule out passing a 24- or 48-hour stopgap spending measure to continue funding the federal government while giving Congress more time to pass a longer-term spending bill (Weisman/Parker, New York Times, 12/8).

Congressional aides said work was being done to prepare such a stopgap spending measure (Lawder, Reuters, 12/10).

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