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Information blocking penalties could harm patient care: NAACOS


In response to proposed rule it calls for better education about information blocking, eliminating penalties that discourage value-based care participation

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Many of the government’s proposed methods for preventing information blocking among health care providers are unnecessary and would harm patients, according to the National Association of Accountable Care Organizations (NAACOS).

In its written response to the proposed rule containing the penalties for engaging in information blocking, NAACOS called the penalties “punitive” and said they would diminish ACOS’ efforts to improve patient care.

The responses were included in a January 2 letter the association sent to Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Micky Tripathi, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

The proposed rule, part of the 21st Century Cures Act, would screen ACOs, their participants, and their providers/suppliers for engagement in information blocking. Those found to have done so would be removed from or denied approval to participate in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) for a least one year.

In its letter, NAACOS says that sharing data is critical to the operation of value-based care models such as ACOs. Consequently, ACOs already have incentives to share data and report information blocking. “Imposing penalties that prohibit participation in value-based care models is counterintuitive and penalizes patients,” it says. “Any approach that prohibits participation in value-based care is overly punitive and inappropriate.”

In place of the proposed penalties for information blocking, NACCOS recommends that CMS:

  • Develop a comprehensive educational campaign toaa educate health care providers as to what constitutes information blocking
  • Fine individual clinicians or groups found to have committed information blocking rather than penalizing the entire ACO by not allowing it to participate in the MSSP,
  • More clearly outline the appeals rights of ACOs and the clinicians in them, so that they align with those afforded to health IT developers and vendors

NAACOS represents more than 400 ACOs in Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurance working on behalf of health systems and physician provider organizations to improve health care quality and reduce costs.

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