New Rules Allow IT Donations to Physicians
HHS on Tuesday announced final rules that seek to help physicians implement electronic health record systems, CQ HealthBeat reports. The rules establish exceptions and safe harbors for two federal fraud and abuse laws that regulate the donation of health care information technology and services.
Under the rules, published by CMS and the HHS Office of Inspector General, hospitals and certain other groups can donate interoperable EHR software, hardware and training to physicians through the exceptions and safe harbors. The rules "will sunset on Dec. 31, 2013, in line with the president's goal of adopting the technology by 2014," CQ HealthBeat reports.
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt in a conference call said, "This is a big day for the advancement of health information technology."
Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, said that the rules will "create a uniform template to support e-prescribing and the creation of electronic health records."
In related news, Leavitt and Ignagni on Tuesday criticized provisions related to interoperability standards in the House version of a health care IT bill passed last month.
Leavitt said, "Unfortunately, the House bill contains a serious flaw of treating health IT as if it doesn't need to be interoperable. That's like having a cell phone that can't talk with other cell phones from another network." Leavitt said that House and Senate conferees should "re-examine the bills and make interoperability a specific requirement" (Carey, CQ HealthBeat, 8/1).
Last week, the National Alliance for Health Information Technology on Capitol Hill detailed an effort "to create a standard language and interoperability to a level where machines can communicate and interpret information," CQ HealthBeat reports. NAHIT in the next three years "is set to build industry standards, multiorganizational collaboration and best practices, and undertake the task of fully informing the government of how health IT operates," according to CQ HealthBeat (CQ HealthBeat, 7/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.