• Julie Barnes

November 5, 2020

Maverick's Update

Only What Matters in Health Information Policy

For the last several weeks or more, it has been rare to hear anyone inside the Beltway make it through a sentence about the election. It usually went something like “I just don’t...understand…” or “I just need… be over…” (All the other comments we heard may not be printed in a family newsletter.) And while we are waiting for things to settle, Maverick Health Policy knows that this too shall pass and will be followed by another intense few years of public debate about health care policy. A couple of things:

  1. Both Presidential Candidates Are Big Supporters Of Seamless Health Data Exchange. We take this opportunity to remind everyone that Joe Biden feels strongly about modernizing the health care system -- in part because of his family’s struggle with getting health care records exchanged between providers while his son Beau was being treated for brain cancer. At Health Datapalooza in 2016, he said that making sure patients get access to their own health care records is "a matter of life and death." And we can expect that another President Trump term would bring the same hard-charging, fast-paced policy changes to interoperability mandates and empowering patients with health care information -- including price information.

  2. What Will Likely Happen Now. The Lame Duck Congress must pass a budget bill to keep the government open by December 11, 2020, and it seems possible that an economic stimulus package will accompany it. In one or both, funds for public health data exchange to combat COVID-19 will likely be included.

  3. What Else Will Likely Happen Now. The rest of the votes will be tallied, the country will try to calm itself over the holidays despite not being able to take “real” vacations during a pandemic, and we will start to hear about staff appointments and first 100-day plans. Hold on to your hats.

One Thoughtful Paragraph

Over the past decade or more, health information technology (“health IT”) is one of the very few health care issues about which Republican and Democrats can agree. At both the messaging and detailed level, both parties believe that it is necessary to improve that nation’s health data infrastructure and encourage the widespread use of health IT. So, on October 30, 2020, when the Trump Administration’s HHS Office of National Coordinator of Health Information Technology published its 2020-2025 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, it was not that surprising that it looked a lot like the 2015-2020 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan that was released by the Obama Administration. They are both 50 pages long. The basic goals are the same: empower individuals with their health information, leverage health IT to improve health care delivery, support research and science with high-quality health data, and make interoperability a reality. These strategic plans are thoughtful. They were drafted by teams of professionals who are led by the most well-respected people in the business (Don Rucker, MD and Karen DeSalvo, MD). And these plans gave rise to real action -- these are not just words on paper because some congressional act said they must exist. Maverick Health Policy wishes that this type of non-partisan policymaking and shared values could steer all health policy issues.

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