• AAFP, Other Groups Demand HHS Stop Stalling on Regulations

    Information Blocking Provisions Mired in Bureaucracy

    August 09, 2018 02:12 pm News Staff – Enough is enough. The AAFP recently joined 13 other medical associations and health care organizations in telling the federal government it has dragged out the regulation-writing process on an important topic far too long.

    At issue are the information blocking provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act, which was enacted in December 2016.

    As the Aug. 6 letter to National Coordinator for Health IT Donald Rucker, M.D., and HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson points out, more than 600 days have passed since that law was signed into law.

    "Every day that the administration delays implementation of these critical provisions places patients at risk of harm," says the letter.

    The law requires HHS to issue regulations that not only prevent information blocking but that also clarify activities that do not constitute information blocking.

    Furthermore, the law directs the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to implement a process that allows the public to submit reports of information blocking caused by health IT products and the developers of such products.

    And, as the letter points out, the Office of the Inspector General has enforcement authority over those who engage in information blocking.

    "Information blocking impedes provider access to the most current, accurate or complete information on their patients. As the administration proposes and implements new rules related to open APIs (application programming interfaces) and interoperability in Medicare's payment rules for hospitals and doctors, the lack of clear rules of the road needlessly creates uncertainty for vendors and providers alike."

    In short, "We understand the nuance required, but feel it is past time for a proposal to be made," say the organizations.

    The 14 organizations -- including the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Medical Informatics Association, Health IT Now and the National MS Society -- were convened a year ago by Health IT Now for the express purpose of recommending ways to implement information blocking provisions of the law.

    The AAFP, along with the other signatories, considers information blocking to be a risk to patient safety and a significant contributor to the high costs and waste that currently plague the U.S. health care system.