A new proposed rule from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that would establish disincentives for health care providers found to have committed information blocking was discussed at the Connecting for Better Health (C4BH) coalition meeting on November 9th.
HHS proposed this new rule in early November to encourage accountability for information blocking by health care providers under the 21st Century Cures Act. It is intended to expand enforcement and complement a final rule that was established in June 2023, which creates information blocking penalties for certified health information technology (HIT) developers and offerors, health information exchanges (HIEs), and health information networks (HINs).
The proposed rule would establish a regulatory framework for disincentives and an initial set of measures for health care providers found guilty of information blocking by the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG). Specifically, the proposed financial disincentives would impact providers participating in various programs overseen by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), including the Medicare Promoting Interoperability Program, the Quality Payment Program, and the Medicare Shared Savings Program.
For instance, eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) committing information blocking may lose their status as meaningful users of electronic health records, resulting in financial penalties. Similarly, eligible clinicians may face consequences in the Quality Payment Program, receiving zero scores in certain performance categories. The proposed rule would also deem health care providers, such as accountable care organizations (ACOs), ineligible to participate in the Medicare Shared Savings Program for at least one year if found guilty of information blocking.
This proposed rule represents a meaningful step towards encouraging information blocking compliance, which is essential to accelerate data exchange. The proposed rule is open for public comment through January 2, 2024.