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Paige Jennings is an associate in Covington’s Washington office. She works with the firm’s Federal–State Programs, Health Care, Antitrust, and Litigation practice groups. Ms. Jennings joined the firm after a number of years working on health policy matters in the government and private sectors. Prior to earning her law degree and Master of Public Affairs, she worked in the U.S. Senate for over four years, advising Senators John Breaux and Tom Carper on health and social policy matters. Ms. Jennings later handled federal health policy issues at WellPoint, Inc. During law school, she worked with the U.S. Office of Management and Budget during consideration of the Affordable Care Act, and with the Federal Trade Commission for then-Chairman Jon Leibowitz.

On April 30, 2015, CMS released a massive new dataset with information on the over one billion prescription drug claims made by 36 million Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in the Part D drug benefit in 2013. CMS stated that the release was part of the Obama Administration’s larger effort to increase transparency in the healthcare system.
Continue Reading CMS Releases Part D Prescriber-Level Data as Part of Larger Transparency Effort; Some Stakeholders Express Concern

On April 29, 2015, members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee released a revised discussion draft of the 21st Century Cures Act (“Cures”). The draft bill includes a number of provisions intended to facilitate drug, biologic, and medical device discovery and development through greater collection and dissemination of data and the use of information technology. This posts discusses provisions of the “Discovery” title of the bill focused on expanding access to NIH research data (Subtitle F) and “facilitating collaborative research” (Subtitle G).
Continue Reading House Cures Draft Includes Provisions to Expand Access to Data, Facilitate Research

The Joint Commission, an independent, non-profit organization that accredits and certifies health care organizations, recently issued a Sentinel Event Alert to identify patient safety risks related to the use of health information technology and to recommend actions that hospitals and other accredited organizations should consider.
Continue Reading The Joint Commission Issues Health IT-Related Patient Safety Alert

Healthcare providers, health plans, and other entities are increasingly utilizing cloud services to collect, aggregate, store and process data.  A recent report by IDC Health Insights suggests that 80 percent of healthcare data is expected to pass through the cloud by 2020.  As a substantial amount of healthcare data comprises “personal information” or “protected health information” (PHI), federal and state privacy and security laws, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, raise significant questions for healthcare providers and health plans utilizing the cloud in connection with such data.  Such questions include whether HIPAA requirements extend to cloud providers, how and if entities storing health data on the cloud will be notified in case of a breach, and whether storage of data overseas by cloud providers triggers any additional obligations or concerns.
Continue Reading Moving to the Cloud: Some Key Considerations for Healthcare Entities

On March 10, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the “Next Generation” Medicare Accountable Care Organization (ACO) model, which builds on the Pioneer ACO Model and the Medicare Shared Savings Program.  In what some consider to be an indication of increasing openness to the expansion of telehealth, CMS will allow Next Generation ACOs to offer telehealth coverage beyond that permitted in traditional Medicare.
Continue Reading New Accountable Care Organization Initiative Includes Expanded Medicare Telehealth Coverage

Telehealth legislation circulated earlier this month has been included in the draft House 21st Century CURES bill.  Groups commenting on the telehealth provision have generally supported the effort to expand telehealth services under Medicare, but are divided about whether the measure goes far enough.

The “Advancing Telehealth Opportunities in Medicare” subtitle of the CURES bill

This year’s State of the Union address included little explicit discussion of health IT, but did highlight two areas that could have significant implications for health IT: the President announced a new “Precision Medicine Initiative” and also urged Congress to pass legislation to combat cyber attacks and prevent identity theft.

While the address was scant

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), the nonprofit corporation tasked with advancing comparative clinical effectiveness research, recently released two funding announcements to support Phase II of its effort to create a National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network, or PCORnet.

PCORnet is intended to be a national network providing wide access to health data for clinical

Stakeholders are divided over the current October 1, 2015 deadline for ICD-10 implementation, with some asking Congress to again delay the deadline and others pressing to stick with a 2015 transition.  Both sides have raised cost as one justification for their positions: implementation may cost individual small providers up to $227,000, while further delays could cost larger commercial entities a combined $1 to $7 billion.
Continue Reading Congress Declines to Extend ICD-10 Transition Deadline… For Now

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has named Dr. Jon White to replace Dr. Jacob Reider as the Acting Deputy National Coordinator.  Dr. White joined ONC in October on part-time detail from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).  Since then, he has served as interim head of ONC’s