April 1, 2010

Newsletter Contents

  • Health Insurance Reform – Access to Quality, Affordable Health Coverage
  • ONC 2010 Strategic Plan
  • Status of Meaningful Use
  • FCC’s National Broadband Plan
  • Recent Funding Announcements from HHS and DOL
  • NHIT Membership Update
  • Upcoming Events

  • Health Insurance Reform – Access to Quality, Affordable Health Coverage

    On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law, H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act which was passed by both the House and Senate. The President completed his healthcare overhaul by recently (March 30, 2009) signing into law a supplement to the initial bill, H.R. 4872, the Reconciliation Act of 2010 which was also passed by both the House and Senate.

    This landmark piece of health care reform will expand coverage to 32 million Americans who are currently uninsured, and expand Medicaid to adults with income below 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL) and childless. The new legislation also includes provisions highlighting both health IT and health disparities including, but not limited to:

    • language to ensure the collection and standardization of race, ethnicity, primary language, and disability status data for public healthcare programs;
    • permanently reauthorizing the Indian Health Improvement Act;
    • supporting health IT education and training among medical students as well as projects to address health professions workforce needs;
    • increasing mandatory funding for community health centers to $11 billion over five years;
    • establishing a program to facilitate shared decision-making between patients and those who care for them;
    • establishes new programs that employ health IT to test new, more effective health care delivery models;
    • ensuring Health Insurance Exchanges provide culturally and linguistically appropriate public education and outreach regarding the availability of qualified health plans.

    Click here to view the timeline for implementation.

    ONC 2010 Strategic Plan

    The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has released its draft 2010 Health IT Strategic Framework. The Health IT Strategic Plan will focus on 2011 through 2015 time period as well as lay the ground work for the period beyond 2015 to create a learning health system through the effective use of HIT.

    The Strategic Plan Workgroup of the HIT Policy Committee will hold a public listening session on April 6, 2010, to obtain feedback on the Health IT Strategic Framework. Registration is required for this event. The objective of the listening session is to obtain feedback from the healthcare community regarding the Health IT Strategic Framework which will become foundation for the updates to the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan.

    Status of Meaningful Use

    On December 30, 2009, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) on meaningful use, Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Electronic Health Record Incentive Program. Click here to view NHIT’s public comments on the proposed rule. There were 60 days allowed for public comment, which expired on March 15th. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) was flooded with comments, but still expect to review those comments and publish a final rule sometime during Spring 2010.

    This final rule will outline provisions governing the EHR incentive programs, including defining the meaningful use of EHR technology and the process by which reimbursement incentives will be issued for eligible professionals and hospitals who are successful in becoming “meaningful users” of certified EHR technology. The goal is for the final meaningful use definition to be consistent with current related provisions of Medicare and Medicaid law while continually advancing the contributions certified EHR technology can make to improving health care quality, efficiency, and patient safety, particularly for the underserved and communities of color.

    FCC’s National Broadband Plan

    On March 16th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released their National Broadband Plan outlining an ambitious agenda to close the “digital gap” ensuring that every community has affordable access to robust broadband service, as well as the means and skill to subscribe to that broadband service. Some of the health care specific recommendations in the Plan include ensuring that all health care providers have access to affordable broadband to support their health IT needs; creating economic incentives for broader health IT adoption and innovation; modernizing licensing, privileging and credentialing standards to increase access and adoption of e-care; and unlocking data provided by EHRs while protecting patient privacy. The Plan was mandated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in February 2009 and produced by an FCC task force that set new precedents for government openness, transparency, and rigor. Information for the plan was gathered in 36 public workshops, 9 field hearing, and 31 public notices that produced 75,000 pages of public comments, including NHIT’s own public comments.

    The Plan has been presented to Congress and a Congressional Hearing was scheduled on March 25th before the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet.

    Recent Funding Announcements from HHS and DOL

    Over the past two months, the HHS and the Department of Labor (DOL) have announced the release of nearly $1.162 billion in awards to help advance the adoption and meaningful use of EHRs and train those interested in careers in health care and IT. The awards are made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Over $850 million in HHS grant awards will go to 56 states and State Designated Entities to create state health information exchanges (HIEs), as well as 32 non-profits to develop regional extension centers (RECs). It’s estimated that at least 100,000 primary care providers and hospitals will benefit from the RECs outreach and support services over the next two years.

    More than $225 million in awards from DOL will fund 55 separate training programs and help train nearly 15,000 people interested in careers in healthcare, IT and other growing fields.

    NHIT Membership Update
    • Workgroup Survey - Deadline April 26th
    • NHIT is pleased to welcome the Health Policy Institute, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies as new member of the Management Committee.
    • NHIT is pleased to announce Dr. Andrea Pennington as the new Co-chair of the Education & Outreach Workgroup.

    Upcoming Events
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