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Coalition Calls for ONC Proposal to be Rescinded.

As stakeholder comments have poured in on ONC's and CMS' proposed interoperability rules, one group--Health Innovation Alliance (HIA)--is formally calling on ONC (the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT) specifically to rescind its regulation.

The two proposals released in February--about 1,200 pages combined--look to further advance the nation's healthcare interoperability progress. But the Health Innovation Alliance--formerly called Health IT now and representative of patient groups, providers, employers, insurers, and startup innovators--attests in a letter to federal officials that the information blocking exceptions to the ONC proposed rule are so vague that "they will produce a market worse than today's status quo." The coalition further explains that the rule extends beyond the scope of the 21st Century Cures Act and runs counter to Congressional intent by granting ONC unprecedented new regulatory authority.

According to federal officials, the proposed ONC rule implements the information blocking provisions of the 2016 Cures Act, which defined information blocking as interfering with, preventing, or materially discouraging access, exchange, or use of electronic health information.

The new ONC rule proposes seven exceptions to the definition of information blocking. As it outlines, there are four specific healthcare "actors" regulated by the information blocking provision: providers, certified health IT developers, HIEs (health information exchanges) and HINs (health information networks). The seven proposed exceptions include: preventing harm; promoting the privacy of EHI; promoting the security of EHI; recovering costs reasonably incurred; responding to requests that are infeasible; licensing of interoperability elements on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms; and maintaining and improving health IT performance.

HIA specifically wrote in its letter to ONC, "The categories -security, privacy, etc. -may be appropriate, but the lack of clarity and specificity, and sweeping and broad exceptions are troubling. Because the exceptions are so broad, we are deeply concerned that many of these exceptions will become organizational policy and ingrained practices. As a result, information blocking will persist."

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Title Annotation:Interoperability & HIE
Publication:Healthcare Innovation
Date:Jul 1, 2019
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