Home > EHR, meaningful use, Medicare > ACR Supports Senate Legislation to Promote Interoperability and Penalize Information Blocking

ACR Supports Senate Legislation to Promote Interoperability and Penalize Information Blocking

In 2013, the American College of Radiology (ACR) Council passed a resolution directing the College to make interoperability and information-sharing an advocacy priority. That same year, ACR provided input into an Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) request for information about health information exchange and interoperability, and successfully worked with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the HHS Office of Inspector General (IOG) to strengthen regulatory requirements around the previously lax “interoperability” prerequisites in the EHR exception and safe harbor from self-referral and anti-kickback requirements.

This week, ACR continued its efforts to proliferate interoperability and exchange by officially supporting S. 2141, the Transparent Ratings on Usability and Security to Transform Information Technology (TRUST IT) Act of 2015, sponsored by U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). This bipartisan legislation would expand HHS OIG’s authority to investigate and penalize “information blocking” beyond EHR donations under the EHR exception/safe harbor to include any information blocking related to certified health IT. If a hospital/provider, vendor, or system were reported for information blocking, HHS OIG would be empowered to investigate and assess a civil monetary penalty of up to $10,000 per act.

The legislation defines “information blocking” as follows:

The term ‘information blocking’ means, with respect to the development, configuration, implementation, and use of qualified electronic health records and other health information technology, business, technical, and organizational practices that—

“(A) except as required by law, prevent or materially discourage the access, exchange, or use of electronic health information; and

“(B) the person knows or should know (as defined in section 1128A(i)(7) of the Social Security Act [SSA]) are likely to interfere with the access, exchange, or use of electronic health information.

“Should know” in the current section 1128(i)(7) of the SSA means:

The term “should know” means that a person, with respect to information—

(A) acts in deliberate ignorance of the truth or falsity of the information; or

(B) acts in reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the information, and no proof of specific intent to defraud is required

Beyond empowering HHS OIG to investigate and penalize information blocking, the legislation would also improve physician and consumer protections by implementing a development council-administered, three star ratings scale for certified health IT products in the areas of usability, interoperability, and security. The HHS and the development council would work with specialty physicians, among other stakeholders, to develop reporting criteria to guide the ratings.

The TRUST IT Act arose out of a series of several Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearings on interoperability issues and barriers throughout 2015. Senators Cassidy and Whitehouse both serve on the committee. ACR is now urging Congress to include TRUST IT Act in the upcoming Senate companion to H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act.

If members have questions about the TRUST IT Act or ACR’s support for this bill, please contact Michael Peters, ACR Director of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs, at mpeters@acr.org.

Categories: EHR, meaningful use, Medicare

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