Health IT Groups at Odds Over ‘Cromnibus’ Interoperability Language
December 19, 2014 in News
Health IT groups appear divided over language included in the fiscal year 2015 continuing resolution omnibus spending bill to decertify electronic health record systems that are unequipped to share health information electronically with different EHR systems, Health Data Management reports (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 12/18).
On Tuesday, President Obama signed the $1.1 trillion federal spending package into law.
Among other things, the spending package directs the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to decertify EHR systems that prevent the electronic exchange of health information.
Under the package, ONC is required to submit a plan within 90 days of enactment by Congress detailing the health data sharing problem, including an estimate of the number of vendors or eligible hospitals and professionals who block information and a plan for addressing the issue.
Further, the law instructs ONC’s Health IT Policy Committee to submit a report on the challenges and barriers to interoperability within 12 months of enactment to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and other appropriate authorizing committees (iHealthBeat, 12/17).
HIMSS Electronic Health Record Association Chair Mark Segal said that although the organization supports efforts to improve interoperability, it thinks the congressional mandate to decertify certain products would negatively affect the health care industry. He added that the organization believes the decertification efforts would “introduce costly uncertainty into the industry.” He also noted that the move would disable clients who use the decertified products “from attesting for meaningful use or employing them in other important delivery reform initiatives.”
Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs have qualified for Medicare and Medicare incentive payments.
Meanwhile, Dan Haley — vice president of government affairs at athenahealth, which resigned from EHRA in April — said athenahealth supports the mandate. He said the “federal government should not be subsidizing technologies that impede progress toward” interoperability, adding, “[i]t is entirely appropriate for Congress to press ONC to use its leverage to improve the unacceptable health IT status quo” (Health Data Management, 12/18).