Advocacy Alert

Urge Your Lawmakers to Support Essential Health System Designation

HHS Proposes Disincentives for Information Blocking

Faridat Animashaun
October 31, 2023

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Oct. 30 released a proposed rule that aims to prevent health care providers from information blocking.

The proposed rule implements the HHS Secretary’s authority under section 4004 of the 21st Century Cures Act. It aims to create a regulatory framework for managing disincentives for health care providers to interfere with the access, exchange, or use of electronic health information.

If finalized, health care providers that the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) has found to have committed information blocking will have penalties enforced through these existing Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) programs:

  • Medicare Promoting Interoperability Program: hospitals would lose their status as “meaningful users” of electronic health records, which would lead to a cut in Medicare reimbursement.
  • Quality Payment Program: physicians would lose meaningful use status, and their fees under the Merit-based Incentive Payment System would be affected.
  • Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSS): health care providers in accountable care organizations would be excluded from participating in the MSSP for at least one year.

In addition to subjecting providers to these disincentives, HHS proposes to publish information on providers that the OIG determines have committed information blocking.

Earlier in 2023, the agency published a final rule establishing civil penalties of up to $1 million for information blocking by parties such as technology companies and health information exchanges.

Contact Director of Policy Rob Nelb, MPH, at rnelb@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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