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HHS Delays Parts of the Interoperability Rules

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), in conjunction with the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG), recently announced a policy of enforcement discretion to allow compliance flexibilities regarding the implementation of the interoperability final rules announced on March 9th in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) public health emergency. ONC, CMS, and OIG will continue to monitor the implementation landscape to determine if further action is needed.                             

“ONC remains committed to ensuring that patients and providers can access electronic health information, when and where it matters most. During this critical time, we understand that resources need to be focused on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. To support that important work and the information sharing efforts we are already seeing, ONC intends to exercise enforcement discretion for three months at the end of certain ONC Health IT Certification Program compliance dates associated with the ONC Cures Act Final Rule to provide flexibility while ensuring the goals of the rule remain on track,” says Don Rucker, MD, national coordinator for HIT. 

“Today’s action follows the extensive steps CMS has taken to ease burden on the health care industry as it fights COVID-19. Now more than ever, patients need secure access to their health care data. Hospitals should be doing everything in their power to ensure that patients get appropriate follow-up care. Nevertheless, in a pandemic of this magnitude, flexibility is paramount for a health care system under siege by COVID-19. Our action today will provide hospitals an additional six months to implement the new requirements,” says Seema Verma, CMS administrator.

For the CMS announcement, visit www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Guidance/Interoperability/index.

For the ONC announcement, visit https://healthit.gov/curesrule.

For the OIG announcement, visit https://oig.hhs.gov/reports-and-publications/federal-register-notices/index.asp.

Source: Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology