Prior to adjourning for the August recess, albeit an abbreviated break for the Senate, Congress was successful in accomplishing several key HIMSS policy priorities.
In February, a two-year bipartisan budget deal was enacted into law that raised the budget caps for non-defense (and defense) discretionary spending. HIMSS worked in close collaboration with our coalition partners, the Coalition for Health Funding and NDD United to advance this critical increase to support federal spending in key areas like veteran’s programs and public health and medical research that heavily rely on health information and technology investment.
The budget deal also included the CHRONIC Care Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation originating in the Senate Finance Committee that contained four key Medicare telehealth provisions, marking the first comprehensive package of policies to be signed into law removing barriers to adoption and use of telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries.
Despite these gains, lawmakers return to Washington with several critical legislative issues left to be addressed before the end of the 115th Congress. These include passage of fiscal year 2019 spending bills to fund the federal government, completion of a comprehensive opioid package, and reauthorization of the Pandemic All Hazards Preparedness Act. Each of these legislative initiatives contains key health IT priorities, including:
- Language to clarify Health and Human Service’s (HHS) role in working with the private sector on patient data matching
- Advances in electronic prescribing of controlled substances and electronic prior authorization under Medicare part D
- Additional flexibility for the HHS Secretary to waive restrictions on the use of telehealth to treat substance use disorders
- Building electronic infrastructure to enhance national preparedness
HIMSS will continue to work closely with our partners in Congress to ensure our key priorities, which enjoy significant bipartisan support, cross the finish line in 2018.