On April 19, 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a 30-day extension to the comment period for two rules proposed by the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), originally published on March 4, 2019. These rules, discussed in greater detail in our March 7, 2019 blog post, seek to increase interoperability and patient access to electronic health information (EHI). The new deadline for comments on both rules is June 3, 2019.

HHS stated that the decision to extend the comment period came after receiving requests from various stakeholders for additional response time. HHS acknowledged that the proposed rules “include a range of issues having major effects on healthcare,” and explained that the extension will allow for more meaningful input from the public.

In addition to the deadline extension, HHS also announced ONC’s release of a second draft of the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA). The TEFCA is a proposed set of common principles intended to help develop trust between health information networks (HINs) to make HINs more able to widely share EHI across disparate networks. Ultimately, by establishing a Common Agreement based on these “trust” principles, ONC aims to facilitate access to EHI for patients, providers, payors and other stakeholders. Comments on the second draft of the TEFCA are due June 17, 2019.