Health IT Now to Tom Price: Limit ONC's 'overstep and mission creep'

The industry group calls on the HHS secretary to rein in the Office of the National Coordinator from unnecessarily burdensome regulatory authority.
By Tom Sullivan
04:20 PM
ONC regulation

Industry coalition Health IT Now on Wednesday called on Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to focus on interoperability, kill information blocking, and reduce both healthcare costs and the existing regulatory burden on hospitals and physicians.

“We must incent the free flow of information to better deliver and pay for care,” Health IT Now executive director Joel White wrote in an open letter to Price. “Under your leadership HHS has a fantastic opportunity to incent the uptake and use of health IT that makes providers’ lives easier and better patient outcomes through more accessible information.”

Health IT Now’s calls on Congress arrive a week after President Trump’s proposed budget cut gutted the office by 37% of its annual budget and aims to sunset a number of its existing programs and offices, notably those focused on privacy and security, eHealth and the health IT and provider adoption units. 

White suggested that Price achieve Health IT Now's suggetions by advancing health information interoperability, transforming the regulatory system to keep pace with innovations in medicine, science and technology, and improving care while lowering costs by harnessing technologies that have already improved other industries.

Within changes the the 21st Century Cures Act and MACRA are bringing about, Health IT Now also called on Price to minimize information blocking and maximize data sharing. And the coalition also called on Price to refocus the Office of the National Coordinator’s role, including rescinding the ONC Enhanced Oversight and Accountability final rule and “limit the ONC certification program to verification of functionality necessary to perform measures required for participation in MACRA payment models.”

“Recent actions taken by ONC not only overstep statutory authority, but show dedication to mission creep rather than the core directive from Congress: achieve interoperability and do so quickly. Specifically, we are concerned with the potential impact of the ONC Enhanced Oversight and Accountability final rule,” White noted. “We believe that provisions of this final rule are duplicative and unnecessarily burdensome and seek to extend ONC’s regulatory authority to the entire marketplace, rather than just products used by participants in the Meaningful Use program.”

An ONC spokesperson responded to request for comment by directing queries to HHS, which did not immediately respond.

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