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." 


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.