News in Brief: Week of Feb. 24-28

February 26, 2014 03:45 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

[News in Brief]

AAFP Supports Proposed Rule on Administrative Simplification

In a Feb. 21 letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, M.A., the AAFP expressed support for a proposed rule titled "Administrative Simplification: Certification of Compliance for Health Plans" that was published in the Jan. 2 Federal Register(

In its comment letter, the AAFP said it supports the rule, which requires that health plans demonstrate compliance with certain standards and operating rules for electronic transactions and proposes penalties for failure to comply.

The AAFP also welcomed CMS' push to develop a consistent testing process so health plans could both achieve and demonstrate their compliance with the rule. The letter noted the AAFP's ongoing commitment to modernization and simplification of tasks related to the administrative side of health care.

ONC Issues Proposed Rule on 2015 Edition EHR Technology

HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT recently issued a proposed rule -- published in the Feb. 26 Federal Register( -- regarding the 2015 edition of electronic health record (EHR) certification criteria.

According to a Feb. 21 HHS press release(, compliance with the 2015 edition would be voluntary.

EHR developers whose products are certified as part of the 2014 edition would not have to recertify those products to ensure customers' ability to participate in the Medicare and Medicare EHR incentive programs. In addition, physicians and other health care professionals would not be required to upgrade their existing EHR technology to the 2015 edition to participate in those programs.

National Vaccine Advisory Committee Updates Standards for Adult Immunization Practice

The National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) has released its annual update on standards( for adult immunization. It stated that several barriers still exist to adult vaccination, including

  • the lack of health care professional and patient knowledge about the need for vaccinating both healthy and high-risk adults, and
  • medical management of acute and chronic illnesses receiving priority over preventive services.

To combat the numerous barriers to adult immunization, the NVAC suggested several strategies. "One of the most important predictors of receipt of vaccination among adults is a health care provider's recommendation and offer of a vaccine during the same visit," said the report. Other approaches include patient and physician reminder/recall systems, physician assessment and feedback about vaccination practices, and reducing patient out-of-pocket costs.

The CDC offers a four-step process( for all heath care professionals to use -- whether they provide vaccinations or not -- to help ensure that their adult patients are fully immunized.

CMS Looking for More Participants for Bundled Payment Initiatives

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) recently announced that it was allowing additional time for organizations to apply for inclusion in several models of CMMI's Bundled Payment for Care Improvement initiative. The announcement was made in the Feb. 14 Federal Register(

Family medicine practices are among the organizations that could benefit from participation; forms must be submitted by April 18 for consideration.

Information related to all of the bundled payment models( is available from CMS.