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Statements from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Interoperability Flexibilities amid the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Today, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), in conjunction with the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced a policy of enforcement discretion to allow compliance flexibilities regarding the implementation of the interoperability final rules announced on March 9th in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) public health emergency. ONC, CMS, and OIG will continue to monitor the implementation landscape to determine if further action is needed.

"ONC remains committed to ensuring that patients and providers can access electronic health information, when and where it matters most. During this critical time, we understand that resources need to be focused on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. To support that important work and the information sharing efforts we are already seeing,ONC intends to exercise enforcement discretion for 3 months at the end of certain ONC Health IT Certification Program compliance dates associated with the ONC Cures Act Final Rule to provide flexibility while ensuring the goals of the rule remain on track." – Don Rucker, MD, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

"Today's action follows the extensive steps CMS has taken to ease burden on the healthcare industry as it fights COVID-19. Now more than ever, patients need secure access to their healthcare data. Hospitals should be doing everything in their power to ensure that patients get appropriate follow-up care. Nevertheless, in a pandemic of this magnitude, flexibility is paramount for a healthcare system under siege by COVID-19. Our action today will provide hospitals an additional 6 months to implement the new requirements." – Seema Verma, CMS Administrator

For the CMS announcement, visit: https://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Guidance/Interoperability/index

For the ONC announcement, visit: https://healthit.gov/curesrule.

For the OIG announcement, visit: https://oig.hhs.gov/reports-and-publications/federal-register-notices/index.asp