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House Passes 21st Century Cures Act

Posted on 7/10/2015 by NTOCC ® in Public Policy Updates

This morning, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the 21st Century Cures Initiative (H.R. 6) by a bipartisan vote of 344-77. The House passage comes at the end of a year-and-a-half long effort led by Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and fellow Committee member Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO).

The final bill included mandatory funding of $8.75 billion for NIH over five years from 2016 to 2020. The House-passed version also included interoperability language crafted by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX). This language clarified that this section would apply to health IT, rather than just electronic health records. The section also includes language focused on the secure transfer of patient data, complete access to patient’s available data without information blocking, and includes categories on interoperability standards: standards regarding vocabulary and terminology; standards regarding content and structure; standards regarding information transport; security standards; and, service standards. These categories are in line with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s work around standards as they continue to craft their own interoperability framework.

Additional language clarifies the role that federal agencies will play under this new program moving forward, as well as language guiding adoption of interoperability standards and clarifications on what qualifies as a “certified” electronic health record and when the system can be considered as having achieved “widespread” interoperability. The bill expresses a sense of Congress that individuals utilizing health IT should be confident that the data contained in their electronic health record pertains to that individual, beginning the conversation on patient identifiers.

The legislation now moves to the Senate for their consideration. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who also serves as chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Richard Burr (R-NC) released a white paper as a starting point for the Senate’s process. The entire paper can be found here: Innovation for Health Americans. NTOCC is closely monitoring the legislation as it moves through the legislative process.

For more information on 21st Century Cures, please see the bill text here, a section-by-section here, and summary from the committee here.