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  • Writer's pictureJulie Barnes

November 20, 2019

Maverick’s Update

Only What Matters on Health Information Policy

  1. Maverick Health Policy has been waiting impatiently for the health plan interoperability rules to be published. According to the White House’s unified regulatory agenda, we are expecting the rules rather soon. There was some confusion about the CMS rule being on the “long-term action list” -- read more here -- but that just means CMS has until 2022 to finalize them, not that they will take that much time. Maybe we will see an interim rule published so the industry has more time to comment?

  2. Will people finally know health care prices before getting services? It won’t be for lack of trying by the Trump Administration with its latest two rules: •Hospitals must make standard charges public (final rule fact sheet); •Health plans and hospitals may need to explain how much everyone is getting paid, whether in-network or out-of-network, so consumers can figure out how much they will pay out-of-pocket: Transparency in Coverage Proposed Rule. Modern Healthcare did a nice job explaining it. But the hospital industry (at least) will be trying to prevent these rules from being implemented.

  3. If health care came up in the 3rd Democratic presidential debate, no one noticed. Which is odd, given that rising health care costs continue to be the No. 1 issue for Democratic-leaning voters.

One Thoughtful Paragraph

There is not enough room to list all of the articles about Project Nightingale, a data-sharing project by Google and Ascension. Maverick Health Policy already reported last week that HHS Office of Civil Rights is investigating the situation, and that this is a good example of why we need a new health information agency, and now there are calls for a new HIPAA to shore up our health care data privacy. Other thoughts include:

  • It’s not clear that the deal represents a major privacy risk. Article

  • We must develop an ethical framework for the use and sharing of data. Article

  • The question should be exactly what will Google do with all this data? Article

  • Senator Mark Warner wrote to HHS that they should add standards about “third-party data stewardship” to the interoperability rules to keep health information secure when it is shared with non-health care organizations. Article.

The fear that increased availability and sharing of our health data is predictable and understandable. The question is how will we react to this fear? Will we create a framework that allows us to capitalize on our opportunity to improve health care for everyone? Will we address the actual fear -- that our information will be misused? Or will we issue blanket prohibitions about how health information cannot be used?

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