Proposed rule details fines for hospitals, clinicians and ACOs
The federal government wants to crack down on information blocking by health care providers.
Last week the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a proposed rule that would allow the Office of the Inspector General to penalize providers who have engaged in information blocking. HHS defines information blocking as knowingly and unreasonably interfering with “the access, exchange, or use of electronic health information except as required by law or covered by a regulatory exception.”
Micky Tripathi, Ph.D., M.P.P. national coordinator for health information technology (ONC) at HHS and Jonathan Blum, principal deputy administrator and chief operating officer at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, explained in a blog post that the rule stems from the 21st Century Cures Act. That law, enacted in 2016, directs the secretary of HHS to penalize health care providers who engage in information blocking and define what practices don’t constitute information blocking.
According to Tripathi and Blum, the entities or organizations covered by the rule and the “disincentives” (penalties) they would face for engaging in information blocking include:
“HHS is committed to developing and implementing policies that discourage information blocking to help people and the health providers they allow to have access to their electronic health information,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in announcing the proposed rule. “We are confident the disincentives included in the proposed rule, if finalized, will further increase the appropriate sharing of electronic health information and establish a framework for potential additional disincentives in the future.”
Public comment on the proposed rule is now open and will continue until January 2, 2024. HHS said it will begin enforcing the provider penalties once the proposed rule is finalized.