Given the attention that “repeal and replace” of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) received in the 2016 campaign, it is no surprise that President Donald J. Trump’s Administration and Republican Congressional leaders plan to focus their healthcare agenda on this issue early in 2017. With key nominations pending for long-time healthcare thought leaders—Dr. Tom Price as Secretary-Designate of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Seema Verma as Administrator-Designate at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)—we anticipate that the debate around the “repeal and replace” process as well as content will consume a significant amount of time in 2017.
In terms of HIMSS public policy in 2017, we intend to leverage a strategic framework that focuses on four foundational areas where the value of health IT can be demonstrated, including:
- Supporting Care Transformation
- Expanding Access to High Quality Care
- Increasing Economic Opportunity
- Making Communities Healthier
Health IT remains a core foundational piece in reforming our healthcare system. In particular, health IT tools are critical for improving patient safety and outcomes, increasing access, and greater success in value-based care delivery, quality reporting initiatives, as well as in opportunities to test new, innovative models of care.
For 2017, our public policy priorities include the following topics:
Implementation/Oversight of the Quality Payment Program
We expect that implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) and the Quality Payment Program (QPP) will proceed as scheduled in 2017. Congress will utilize its oversight function and monitor QPP implementation to ensure reporting challenges or undue administrative burdens are not placed on eligible clinicians. HIMSS will continue to support implementation of QPP and other value-based payment policies that encourage participation by allowing the opportunity for customization, streamlined requirements, and flexibility.
Interoperability Across the Spectrum of Care
The next frontier for health IT is support for exchange across the spectrum of care and in support of a Learning Health Care System. Interoperable data formats must be adopted for care settings, such as behavioral health, long-term and post-acute care, community service providers as well as the research community, but also, to ensure that more population-level human services data are included in this endeavor.
HIMSS is committed to supporting and educating all stakeholders to achieve interoperability leading to information exchange that improves the quality and cost effectiveness of healthcare delivery. We will continue to leverage our resources and our diverse membership to ensure all individuals and communities have access to the tools necessary to share health information in a secure and appropriate manner across the spectrum of care.
The HIMSS Cybersecurity Call-to-Action remains relevant and serves as a framework for our cybersecurity advocacy initiatives in 2017. As included in the Cybersecurity Call-to-Action, HIMSS will continue to advocate for:
- Adoption of a Universal Information Privacy and Security Framework for the Health Sector
- Creation of an HHS Cyber Leader Role
- Addressing of the Shortage of Qualified Cybersecurity Professionals
As implementation of the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 continues, HIMSS has been working closely with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, as they prepare the Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force report, which is due to Congress in March 2017.
HIMSS plays a convener and facilitator role for the National Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center (NH-ISAC) by providing relevant information to HIMSS audiences and members. NH-ISAC is now using its recent HHS grant award to provide cybersecurity threat information and education to healthcare sector stakeholders and help build the infrastructure necessary to receive and disseminate cyber threat information securely from/to healthcare partners.
As we move into 2017, feel free to reach out to me with questions, comments, or additional resources that are needed. Let’s get implementation of our HIMSS public policy priorities underway and make more progress toward transforming healthcare.