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January 27, 2012 - Advocacy Corner

Top News
Health Innovators Gather in Washington; Prizes and Challenges Announced

At a gathering of healthcare stakeholders in Washington this week, over a dozen healthcare "challenges" were announced by payers, vendors, non-profits and the public sector. The Care Innovations Summit brought together public and private sector leaders in healthcare who unveiled new initiatives and issued new challenges - many of them backed by cash rewards - asking innovators to address problems related to chronic disease, healthcare costs, care transitions and other issues using health information technology. The agenda was filled by the likes of CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, Dr. Rick Gilfillan director of the CMS Innovation Center, HHS CTO Todd Park, US CTO Aneesh Chopra and ONC Coordinator Dr. Farzad Mostashari. Joining them were MDs and RNs from across the country, making strides in achieving the "triple aim" of better health, better healthcare and lower costs. In addition the challenges calling upon developers, coders and techies of all creeds to help address long-standing problems related to diabetes, readmissions, Alzheimer’s and obesity, ONC issued a challenge of its own: Post-discharge follow-up appointments. "It's a simple thing we're asking, but it's also tough because of fragmentation in the system," Mostashari said.

ONC is looking for “software developers to create an easy-to-use web-based tool that will make post-discharge follow-up appointment scheduling a more effective and shared process for care providers, patients and caregivers.” Developers also will need to articulate a plan for broader adoption at the community level, the challenge states.

This competition is the second in a series of challenges calling attention to care transitions, particularly the time a patient is discharged from a hospital; these challenges seek the development and spread of IT-enabled tools that help achieve better care and better health at lower cost. The first challenge, “Ensuring Safe Transitions from Hospital to Home,” called upon developers to create a web-based application that could empower patients and caregivers to better navigate and manage a transition from a hospital. Information about the Challenge and the winners can be found here.

Legislation & Politics
Dear Speaker: Stop ICD-10, Says AMA Letter

It was reported this week that Dr. James Madara, executive vice president and CEO of the American Medical Association, sent a letter (.pdf) to Speaker of the House John Boehner urging him “to put a stop” to the required implementation of ICD-10. “The implementation of ICD-10 will create significant burdens on the practice of medicine with no direct benefit to individual patient care, and will compete with other costly transitions associated with quality and health IT reporting programs,” Madara wrote. According to sources, the AMA has been sending letters to key officials on the Hill for the last two weeks (Speaker Boehner’s letter is dated January 17). Madara wrote the ICD-10 mandate "will create significant burdens on the practice of medicine with no direct benefit to individual patient care, and will compete with other costly transitions associated with the quality and health IT reporting program." He added that the October 2013 deadline "could not be worse as many physicians are currently spending significant time and resources implementing electronic health records (EHR) into their practices." Advocacy Corner has previously reported on efforts by the GOP Doctors Caucus to include a delay to ICD-10 transition in negotiations over the sustainable growth rate formula fix, currently being discussed among House and Senate officials.

In related news, the chair of the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee is calling for a two- or three-year “doc fix.” In a statement made during a Wednesday (Jan. 26) event outlining the committee's priorities for the year, chair Joe Pitts (R-PA) he wants to pass a short-term fix of a few years and then get going on a permanent fix. Rep. Pitts did not like the idea espoused by a growing number of Republicans who want a full repeal of Medicare’s SGR formula by paid for from the savings generated as the U.S. winds down its military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. A Politico article stated that more than half of the 21 House GOP physicians plan to circulate a letter as early as next week in support of using war savings as an SGR offset.

CMS Announces Appeals Process for EHR Incentive Payments Program

According to an announcement this week, CMS has added new information to the Attestation section of the EHR website about the appeals process for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. CMS began accepting appeals for eligible professionals (EPs), eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) on December 1st, 2011. Hospitals and health care providers who can seek appeals include, those deemed ineligible to participate in the incentive program; those denied status as a meaningful user; and those who believe their incentive payments were calculated incorrectly. To help EPs, eligible hospitals and CAHs, the CMS Office of Clinical Standards and Quality (OCSQ) is providing guidance on how to file an appeal and those appeals decisions will be posted at OCSQ Appeals beginning in February.

CHIME Partner News
Stakeholders Outline Barriers to Widespread Adoption of HIT

Public and private entities should align incentives to reward health IT and foster the adoption of common standards, a new report from the Bipartisan Policy Center said this week. The BPC’s Task Force on Delivery System Reform and Health IT unveiled a list of common attributes among of the nation’s highest performing health care organizations, as well as a list of several barriers to achieving the health IT capabilities needed to support those common attributes. Aligning incentives, accelerating health information exchange and developing comprehensive and clear guidance on federal privacy and security laws were among the high-level issues identified in the report. Thirty-two task force members, including input by several CHIME CIOs and the Sr. Director of Advocacy, Sharon Canner, compiled the list of recommendations and identified barriers to health IT adoption and exchange. As part of the focus on alignment, the group identified quality measures as a key area of concern. Specifically, the authors wrote, "By no later than June 30, 2013, the federal government and private-sector payers should review, align and agree upon uniform specifications for a core set of performance measures, enabling federally funded and private-sector programs with the same measurement objective (e.g., care of patients with diabetes) to utilize the same metrics."

CHIME and eHI Announce Webinar

As healthcare organizations aim to demonstrate the meaningful use of electronic health records in Stage 1 of the HITECH program, one of the core objectives that a provider must meet in order to qualify for stimulus funding is to have the capability to "exchange clinical information electronically with other providers and patient-authorized entities." While providers only have to test these capabilities in Stage 1, Stages 2 and 3 are expected to further emphasize the need for robust health information exchange (HIE). To help healthcare CIOs make the complex decisions required to develop HIE, CHIME and eHI collaborated to create the HIE Guide for CIOs. On February 8, 2012 at 3pm Eastern, CIOs will share their experiences building HIE at their organizations as they discuss the recommendations of the guidebook. Speakers include Bill Sorrells, Executive Director of the Alaska eHealth Network, George Hickman, EVP and CIO at the Albany Medical Center, and Joanne Sunquist, CIO of Hennepin County Medical Center.

Register Now! The webinar takes place February 8 at 3pm-4pm Eastern.

HIMSS 12 Public Policy Breakfast Announced

The HIMSS Public Policy Breakfast will Feature Keynote Speaker Dr. Connie Mariano, the White House Doctor to Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. CIOs attending HIMSS 12 are invited to attend this annual event. The breakfast will be held at the Venetian-Sands Convention Center, Room Bellini 2105, Wednesday, February 22, from 7:00 – 8:30 am. Please click here to RSVP.

CHIME News & Notes
Other News Items CHIME Is Reading:

New think tank wants government to see gold in health technology, Washington Post, January 24, 2012

Chief technology officer Aneesh Chopra to leave White House, Politico, January 27, 2012

Should Every Patient Have a Unique ID Number for All Medical Records?, Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2012
CHIME Policy Docs & Calendar
CHIME Advocacy Documents

Interested in more information on the Shared Savings Program, Pioneer ACOs and the Advance Payment ACO model? Want more info on the SGR fix? Please contact Sharon Canner or Jeffery Smith.