In a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, AHA Jan. 2 expressed concern that a proposed rule intended to create disincentives for health care providers to interfere with the access, exchange or use of electronic health information could threaten the financial viability of economically fragile hospitals. In addition, AHA said the processes by which the HHS Office of the Inspector General will determine if information blocking has occurred are unclear, and the rule could levy disproportionate punishment for the same offense depending on the year of the offense and how long it takes for the violation to be referred to CMS.

“The AHA recommends that OIG take time to assess and clarify its proposed enforcement priorities using examples from the claims ONC has captured through the Report Information Blocking Portal to illustrate the definition of intent and to clearly define the investigation and appeals processes,” the letter states. “The ONC should offer an additional 60 days for public review and comment and delay the enforcement of the suggested disincentives for 18 months from the publishing of the final rule to allow for investigations and findings to commence in support of greater education and support for providers.”

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