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From Health Law Daily, December 5, 2016

$122M health IT bill would not increase net direct spending

By Sarah E. Baumann, J.D.

Implementation of the Senate’s Improving Health Information Technology Act (S. 2511) would cost $122 million from 2017 to 2021, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated, assuming appropriation of necessary funds. Implementation of the bill, which is intended to aid doctors in improving the quality of care for patients, enhance health information technology (health IT) transparency and security, implement a health IT ratings system, prevent information blocking, promote interoperability among certified health IT systems, and empower patients by allowing them access to electronic health information, is not expected to increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions passed the bipartisan S. 2511 on April 5, 2016 (CBO Report, December 2, 2016).

S. 2511. According to the CBO, the bill would define "information blocking" as "willful practices that interfere with, prevent, or discourage the use of electronic health information" and "trusted exchange" as "the technical capability of [a health IT] product to exchange electronic health information between users and multiple [health IT] systems securely."

It would require the HHS Secretary to:

  • Provided additional guidance related to the terms "information blocking" and "trusted exchange;" and
  • make recommendations for reducing administrative requirements related to electronic health record (EHR) use.

It would require the health IT Standards Committee to:

  • identify medical specialties and provider sites where health IT adoption is limited and make recommendations on certifying criteria for health IT used by pediatric health care providers to the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).

S. 2511 would require the ONC to:

  • establish reporting requirements for health IT products and revoke certification of developers that do not submit required information;
  • establish a rating methodology that would be used by an independent body to assign star ratings to certified products that would be published on the ONC’s website; and
  • ensure that ONC-certified health IT products to transmit data to, and accept data from, registries that collect information about individuals with specific medical conditions.

In addition, the bill would:

  • grant the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) the authority to investigate allegations of information blocking and levy civil monetary penalties against health IT developers, networks, exchanges, and providers that it would retain as offsetting collection. The ONC would be required to develop a trusted exchange framework.
  • promote patient access to electronic health information by educating health care providers about the benefits of patient access; and
  • require the Comptroller General to issue several reports to Congress on the rating system established by S. 2511 and on current initiatives that work to match EHRs received within and across health care organizations to the correct patient.

Cost estimates. The CBO estimates that agency compliance with the bill’s requirements will require the work of 60 employees each year. In addition, the bill will require spending on information technology and infrastructure.

MainStory: TopStory EHRNews HITNews

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