• Julie Barnes

January 7, 2021

Maverick's Update

Only What Matters in Health Information Policy

This week came with some real shocks to the American people and our political landscape. Yesterday began with the Democratic candidates in Georgia winning both seats in the U.S. Senate runoff election, but when Congress met to certify President-elect Biden's victory, a mob of pro-Trump supporters forced its way into the U.S. Capitol -- forcing those near and far to watch a very un-American scene unfold on television. The day ended with a shaken Congress reconvening, and after heartfelt and sometimes moving speeches about the peaceful transfer of power, they made Biden’s victory official (with Vice President Mike Pence presiding). It will take everyone quite some time to recover from the chaos.

Taking a few deep cleansing breaths, Maverick Health Policy will quickly report on health information-related activity that, during a normal week, would have been big news:

  1. Haven – the joint venture formed by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase – announced that the company is disbanding.

  2. UnitedHealth Group plans to buy Change Healthcare in a $13 billion deal that will combine the health technology company with UnitedHealth's OptumInsight unit to offer software, data analytics, and other behind-the-scenes services for health care organizations.

  3. Provider and health plan comments on the CMS proposed prior authorization rule asked for additional time to comment and identified specific concerns about the complicated new rule that would expedite electronic prior authorizations.

One Thoughtful Paragraph

Maverick intended to write about how remarkable it is that - during a worldwide pandemic that is surging now more than ever - to be able to click on a hyperlink and see federal data showing which hospitals are full of COVID-19 patients. Instead, we feel compelled to write about how misinformation fueled by social media apps changed our democracy yesterday (or changed how we feel about how our democratic process is working). Between this shining example of how words can incite violence -- particularly when the words can spread to millions of people in seconds -- and the fact that American intelligence agencies are investigating the Russian cyberhacking of federal agencies and private company networks -- we are on the cusp of a new reckoning about how technology poses real security threats. With the win in Georgia, the Democratic party will now be able to address privacy and security issues with far-reaching legislation that may have serious and perhaps unintended consequences for the health care system that is in the midst of making more data and technology available to empower patients and their caregivers. We will continue to report on how these startling events impact our nation’s health information policy.

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