HIMSS Senior Director of Congressional Affairs shares a breakdown of the latest health IT policy milestones, news, and legislative updates.
Appropriations Package Signed, Dodging Government Shutdown
On September 28, the president signed an appropriations package to avoid a government shutdown. The package was a large minibus package consisting of both appropriations bills for Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Education, and Defense, as well as a continuing resolution that funds all remaining government agencies through December 7 at FY18 levels.
What’s Noteworthy About This
- First time Labor-HHS was completed before the end of the fiscal year in 22 years
- Resulted in increasing HHS funding up to $90.5 billion
- Resulting in funding increases for National Institutes of Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and Health Resources and Services Administration; the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s funding, however, remained flat
Senate Passes SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act
On October 3, the Senate passed H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act – another breakthrough achieved in combatting the opioid epidemic. This bill, passed by the House in late September, was a key focus on Capitol Hill for over a year, with numerous hearings in a range of committees including House Energy & Commerce, House Ways & Means, Senate HELP and Senate Finance committees.
Included in H.R. 6 are three key provisions formally endorsed by HIMSS. These provisions will advance electronic prescribing of controlled substances and electronic prior authorization under Medicare part D and add additional flexibility for the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to waive restrictions on telehealth resources for substance abuse treatment.
HIMSS worked closely with the bill sponsors and partner organizations in the healthcare and health IT communities to ensure inclusion of these critical policies in the final negotiated package.
House & Senate Adjourned until Midterm Elections
The House and Senate have adjourned until after the midterm elections and will return sometime in mid-November. Once they have returned, a priority issue on the table will be a spending bill, as funding for a number of agencies will run out on December 7.
Either Congress will need another short-term continuing resolution – set to last until new Congress begins in 2019 – or they will need to pass the remaining appropriations bills. Keep your eyes out for updates as we near the end of 2018.
HIMSS POLICY CENTER
Stay up-to-date: explore the recently revamped HIMSS Policy Center
Explore this 2018 #NHITWeek recap post
Learn more about recent health IT policy updates this month:
HIMSS Submits Comments on ONC’s EHR Reporting Program Proposed Regulation
HIMSS Comments on the CMS 2019 MSSP Proposed Rule