As is no surprise to anyone, all of the organizations at HHS are releasing a wide variety of information, rules, relaxation of rules, and other changes amidst COVID-19. We’ve covered most of those changes in our COVID-19 Updates. Given the pace of changes, we wanted to share a number of other updates we’ve seen that would be of interest to healthcare organizations.
OIG Information Blocking Enforcement Proposed Rule
The largest news is probably that coming out of OIG related to the previously announced Information Blocking Rule in the 21st Century Cures Act. This proposed rule would outline the civil money penalties OIG can enforce against those in healthcare who are doing what ONC has termed “Information Blocking.”
In other words, this is the proposed enforcement of the 21st Century Cures Act Information Blocking provisions. You can read the proposed information blocking rule from OIG that is published on the Federal Register.
It will take some time to understand what’s proposed, but here’s some quotes from the announcement that share it at a high level:
“Health IT professionals and entities who make innocent mistakes will not be subject to CMPs,” Grimm [Christi A. Grimm, HHS-OIG Principal Deputy Inspector General] said. “As our proposed rule makes clear, each allegation of information blocking would be assessed based on its own merits given the unique facts and circumstances presented, including the intent of parties. That assessment will include close coordination with ONC and the HHS Office of Civil Rights.”
They also outlined the priorities they’ll use for enforcement.
Those priorities would include investigating conduct that resulted in, is causing or has the potential to cause patient harm; significantly impacted a provider’s ability to care for patients; was of long duration; caused financial loss to Federal health care programs or other government or private entities; or was performed with actual knowledge.
Since this is a proposed rule, it will be open for comments for the next 60. They have also proposed a 60 day delay for enforcement of Information Blocking violations thanks to COVID-19.
ONC 21st Century Cures Act Enforcement Discretion
ONC has also announced a 3 month delay in enforcement of the 21st Century Cures Act: Interoperability, Information Blocking, and the ONC Health IT Certification Program Final Rule.
Here’s a look at the compliance dates and timeframes for the various provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act final rule with the enforcement discretions as well:
If you want to know more about this rule and the Conditions and Maintenance of Certification, check out this ONC blog post by Rob Anthony.
Two other items worth mentioning.
CMS has announced the re-opening of facilities for non-emergent non-COVID-19 healthcare with a bunch of limitations. It’s great to see some progress though.
This article was also interesting since it highlighted that those healthcare organizations that took CARES Act Funds seem to have agreed to not do any surprise billing, or balanced billing as it’s called, during the pandemic. More to come on this I’m sure.