HHS delays enforcement of interoperability rules: 6 things to know 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, HHS on April 21 implemented enforcement discretion of its final interoperability rules.

The regulations, which were finalized March 9, were issued by CMS and ONC to give patients secure and free access to their health data via third-party apps.

CMS will give hospitals an additional six months to meet new requirements under its interoperability and patient access final rule, while ONC will exercise enforcement discretion for three months at the end of certain ONC Health IT certification program compliance dates for its final rule.

Six things to know:

1. CMS' March 9 version of the rule stated that condition of participation would be effective six months after the final rule is published in the Federal Register, which is now extended to one year after the final rule is published.

2. CMS will exercise enforcement discretion of its Patient Access API and Provider Directory API policies for Medicare Advantage, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program for six months. To provide more flexibility to payers, CMS will not enforce new requirements until July 21, 2021.

3. CMS will not begin enforcing new requirements under the Patient Access API for Qualified Health Plan issuers on the individual market Federally-Facilitated Exchanges until July 21, 2021.

4. Other policies in CMS' final rule will be implemented and enforced on schedule.

5. ONC will exercise discretion in enforcing all new requirements under the final rule that have compliance dates and time frames until three months after each initial compliance date or timeline identified in the final rule.

6. ONC's enforcement discretion will push back the timelines of its information blocking certification, application programming interfaces and interoperability requirements. The agency's final rule is scheduled to publish May 1 in the Federal Register.


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