Health IT Now Responds to Hearing on Progress of 21st Century Cures Implementation

WASHINGTON, DC (December 12, 2018): Health IT Now - a broad-based coalition of patient groups, provider organizations, employers, and payers supporting the use of data and health information technology to improve healthcare - responded to this week's House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee's hearing entitled, "Implementing the 21st Century Cures Act: An Update from the Office of the National Coordinator.” 

Health IT Now wrote and championed the interoperability and information blocking provisions in the Cures law and, in the nearly two years since its enactment, has provided a crucial watchdog role; holding the administration to account for following through on its rulemaking responsibilities in the statute. 

Health IT Now Executive Director Joel White released the following statement:

"Health IT Now thanks Chairman Burgess (R-TX) and members of the subcommittee for holding this hearing. As Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) remarked during the proceedings, the 21st Century Cures law is indeed one of Congress's 'stellar accomplishments' in recent memory - one that Health IT Now was proud to help write. The fact remains, however, that nearly two years after President Obama put his signature on the measure, this law remains incomplete; the result of a sluggish rulemaking process that has prevented this bipartisan achievement from living up to its fullest potential," said HITN Executive Director Joel White. "Of chief concern to Health IT Now is the proposed information blocking rule, which was sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in September for final review. The 90-day timeline for this review to be completed will be reached in mere days and, based on this week's hearing, it appears the administration could be at risk of missing this critical deadline. We are putting OMB on notice that further delays to this rule would be wholly unacceptable and would place a senseless, continued threat on consumer safety. Patients and providers must insist on the release of a robust information blocking rule before year's end, and nothing less." 

White continued, "The hearing also offered reason for optimism, particularly the conversation around reducing provider burden and ONC's assurances that it will work to make certain that Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) - which we know are often ineffective at capturing improper transactions in real-time - do not contribute to this festering problem. While CMS risks taking us backward in these efforts by mandating clinician PDMP checks, Health IT Now has proposed a better way through its endorsement of the bipartisan ALERT Act. This solution, which we intend to see reintroduced early in the 116th Congress, would deliver real-time, in-workflow clinical data at the point of dispensing using already existing transaction information - including capturing transactions that may occur across state lines and unsuccessful fill attempts. This would ease provider burden while offering a critical tool in the more dire fight against opioid misuse." 

Background:

In February of this year, Health IT Now joined with the Bipartisan Policy Center to release a whitepaper entitled, "The Future Role of Government in Health Information Technology and Digital Health," outlining recommendations for how the administration might execute its task under the Cures law for reducing regulatory or administrative burdens while also calling for "effective federal enforcement of laws and regulations regarding both patients’ right of access to their data and prevention of information blocking. " 

The coalition also led more than a dozen healthcare organizations on an August 6, 2018 letter to the Office of the National Coordinator criticizing delays in implementation of information blocking provisions of the Cures law. Health IT Now followed that outreach with a widely circulated op-ed in STAT calling on the administration to "uphold its end of the bargain" by quickly promulgating a robust information blocking rule. 
 

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Health IT Now Places Full-Page Ad Announcing Chorus of Support for the RUSH Act

  Health IT Now's full-page ad in the December 5th and 6th print editions of Politico urging passage of the RUSH Act.

Health IT Now's full-page ad in the December 5th and 6th print editions of Politico urging passage of the RUSH Act.

WASHINGTON, DC (December 6, 2018): Health IT Now - a broad-based coalition of patient groups, provider organizations, employers, and payers supporting the use of data and health information technology to improve healthcare - announced this week that it had placed a full-page ad in the December 5th and 6th print editions of Politico urging passage of H.R. 6502, the Health IT Now-endorsed Reducing Unnecessary Senior Hospitalization (RUSH) Act of 2018.

The legislation would significantly reduce hospital admissions from nursing homes – 45 percent of which are estimated by CMS to be unnecessary – by allowing Medicare to selectively enter into value-based arrangements with medical groups to provide acute care at skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) using a combination of telehealth and on-site first responders. 

In its ad urging swift passage of the bill, Health IT Now recognized the RUSH Act's growing roster of sponsors while touting endorsements from a chorus of patient advocate groups, health IT leaders, and academic institutions, including: 

  • American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work

  • American Heart Association

  • Clinical Social Work Association

  • Coalition to Transform Advanced Care

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology Health Science & Technology Department

  • Medline Industries

  • Nassau Queens PPS

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness

  • National MS Society

  • Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

  • The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research

  • The Kennedy Forum

  • The Rogosin Institute

  • UNC Health Alliance/UNC Senior Alliance, and

  • University of Rochester Medical Center.

Health IT Now Executive Director Joel White released the following statement on the advertising campaign:

"With our ad, we intend to send a clear message to Congress that it must not dither on this bipartisan solution to improve care for some of our nation's most vulnerable citizens. Patient groups and grassroots supporters are clamoring for the bill's passage, a CMS report just last month made the case for the legislation better than we could ourselves, and lawmakers like Congressman Diane Black have already publicly called for action on the RUSH Act during the lame-duck session. This is an easy win for Congress and, more importantly, for the patients across this country they are entrusted to serve. Legislators would be remiss to leave town without acting on this sorely-needed measure," said HITN Executive Director Joel White. 

Resources:
Read a recent HITN-led coalition letter of support to Congress on the RUSH Act here
 

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Health IT Now Backs Recommendations for Telehealth Licensure Reform in New Administration Report

WASHINGTON, DC (December 3, 2018): Health IT Now - a broad-based coalition of patient groups, provider organizations, employers, and payers supporting the use of data and health information technology to improve healthcare - responded today to the release of a new report from the Trump administration entitled, "Reforming America's Healthcare System Through Choice and Competition." 

The report includes more than 50 recommendations that Congress, the administration, and states can take to improve healthcare choice and competition, including several recommendations related to telehealth services. Among the administration's suggestions: improving license portability to create additional opportunities for telehealth practice and modifying reimbursement policies that impede telehealth coverage in federal health programs - such as Medicare's originating site requirements. 

Health IT Now Senior Director of Government Affairs Catherine Pugh released the following statement:

"In a 21st-century healthcare system that does right by patients, access to telehealth services must not be a luxury for the few, but rather a standard benefit that is integrated across federal health programs. That is why Health IT Now led the successful fight for the telehealth expansion in this year's Bipartisan Budget Act, is championing inclusion of the RUSH Act in a year-end funding measure, and worked to ensure that licensure laws don't stand in the way of access to technology-enabled care with the enactment of the VETS Act," said HITN Senior Director of Government Affairs Catherine Pugh. "Health IT Now endorses the recommendations in this report related to expanding telehealth services because we cannot allow this critical model of care delivery to be impeded by bureaucratic rules or geographic boundaries. We support the adoption of mutual recognition compacts among physicians - like those widely adopted in the nursing profession - to create additional opportunities for telehealth practice, as the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact is not broad enough on its own to improve license portability. Health IT Now thanks the administration for its diligent work on this document and looks forward to our continued work together leveraging the power of telehealth to lower health costs and improve outcomes." 
 

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