Republicans Question ONC Authority for Safety Center

Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and other House Energy and Commerce Republicans sent a letter to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) asking for information about the statutory authority that the agency used to request FY 2015 funding to establish a Health IT Safety Center and collect user fees from electronic health record vendors. They also questioned the agency’s authority to participate in health IT regulatory activities with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The ONC has also publicized its proposed ten-year plan to coordinate federal agency and marketplace efforts which transcend the current meaningful use program to better share health information for the use in clinical and public health decision making. The goal for the first three years will be to improve the interoperability of existing systems and data exchange among vendors to aid patients and providers in care coordination.

HHS Alerts CHCs to New Funding

HHS has given notice to community health centers (CHCs) that they have until July 1st to apply for up to $300 million in additional PPACA funding to assist in expanding their primary care medical capacities in underserved communities.

Medicare Coverage of Screenings for HCV

CMS issued a coverage decision memorandum stating that Medicare will cover FDA-approved screenings for hepatitis C virus (HCV) in adults at “high risk” of infection and for Medicare-eligible adults born between 1945 and 1965 who are not at high risk.

Upcoming Health-Related Hearings and Markups

House Energy and Commerce Committee: will mark up pending legislation, including: HR 4299 — A bill to amend the Controlled Substances Act with respect to drug scheduling recommendations by the HHS secretary, and with respect to registration of manufacturers and distributors seeking to conduct clinical testing; HR 4709 — Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act; and HR 4631 — A bill to reauthorize certain provisions of the Public Health Service Act relating to autism; 4:00 p.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.; June 9 and 10:00 a.m., June 10.

House Ways and Means Health and Oversight Subcommittees: will hold a joint hearing on the verification system for income and eligibility for tax credits under the 2010 health care law; 10:30 a.m., 1100 Longworth Bldg.; June 10.

Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee: will mark up the FY 2015 appropriations bill for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies; 2:30 p.m., 124 Dirksen Bldg.; June 10.

House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee: will hold a hearing titled “21st Century Cures: Examining the Role of Incentives in Advancing Treatments and Cures for Patients;” 10:00 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Bldg.; June 11.

House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the 2010 health care law, its mandates and its effect on physician and prescription drug access, 10:00 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.; June 12.

Senate Special Aging Committee: will hold a hearing titled “Brain Injuries and Diseases of Aging,” 2:15 p.m., 562 Dirksen Bldg.; June 25.

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