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  • Writer's pictureJulie Barnes

January 14, 2021

Maverick's Update

Only What Matters on Health Information Policy

Maverick Health Policy is undeniably still reeling from the events of last week, and not just because we live so close to the U.S. Capitol that our local churches are asking for donations of beef jerky and hand warmers to support the thousands of national guard troops coming into town to help with security for the presidential inauguration. We are also overwhelmed by the knowledge that -- just when the country needs strong government intervention to address a global public health crisis -- Americans are angry with their government. It is time to shift the anger to the invisible common enemy that is attacking us regardless of political affiliation.

A few lighter news items:

  1. Want To Help Standardize Health Data Elements Instead of Doing Your Taxes? ONC announced that the second version of the U.S. Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI) is in draft form here and invites the public to comment by April 15, 2021.

  2. Emergency Measures and Regulatory Flexibilities May Continue: HHS Secretary Alex Azar renewed the current COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, which would have ended on January 20, 2021. The renewal is effective on January 21, 2021. Nod to Manatt for reminding us what that means for health care policies.

  3. Better Send Yourself A Calendar Reminder to Get a Second Shot: Without access to federal data systems that are tracking who got the first vaccine shot, it will be really tricky (read: impossible) for health plans and others to remind people to get their second dose, as explained by Politico Future Pulse.

One Thoughtful Paragraph

In one week, we will be hearing a lot about how the Biden Administration will focus on testing and vaccinating and testing again to beat back the virus. We wonder how they will collect and share the information necessary to be successful. USA Today published a remarkable piece a month ago explaining how “A jumble of interconnected state and federal databases will make it work.” Maverick Health Policy wants to believe it. Indeed, the end-of-year spending bill included millions of dollars for public health data system interoperability and modernization, and the efforts of Alexandra Mugge and so many others have made great progress on interoperability over the last few years. Still, Arizona is an example of one state that has vaccines but can’t get its people vaccinated because its largest county prescreening tool and the statewide vaccine management system can’t “talk” to each other. Recognizing that Sequoia Project and others (many others) are rushing in to help address these IT logistics, including helping regular people get access to their own vaccination records, we just hope these issues can be addressed really quickly.

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