HHS pitches hospital information blocking 'disincentives'

HHS proposed a new rule Oct 30 to disincentivize healthcare provider information blocking and is seeking public comment through Jan. 2, 2024, according to an HHS news release.

The new rule proposes penalties for unreasonable interference with accessing or exchanging information on EHRs, unless the situation falls under a regulatory exception. Healthcare providers that block information sharing requirements would face the following penalties under the proposed rule:

1. Hospitals would no longer meet EHR meaningful user requirements during the applicable EHR period, which means they would lose 75% of the annual market basket increase from CMS; critical access hospitals would see pay reduced 100% of reasonable costs.

2. Physicians and medical groups would not meet the requirements for "meaningful user of certified EHR technology" under the "promoting interoperability performance" category of the Merit-based Incentive Payment System, which is often 25% of the total annual MIPS score.

3. ACOs would be ineligible to participate in the Medicare Shared Savings Program for at least a year, and individual healthcare providers could be removed from ACOs or not allowed to join ACOs in the future.

The OIG established financial penalties earlier this year of up to $1 million per violation for health IT developers of certified health IT, health information exchanges, entities offering certified health IT and health information networks, according to the report.

"We are confident the disincentives included in the proposed rule, if finalized, will further increase the appropriate sharing of electronic health information and establish a framework for potential additional disincentives in the future," said Xavier Becerra, HHS secretary, in a news release.

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