NHS delays data sharing rollout; ONC explains new certification transparency requirements;

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> The U.K.'s National Health Services has postponed the launch of a large scale electronic health record data sharing project in response to concerns about the confidentiality of the patients' information, according to The Guardian. Despite a letter campaign to millions, two-thirds of people in the country were unfamiliar with how the program would work and confused about the opt out procedures. Concerns also were raised about the ability of private companies to purchase patient information. Article

> Vermont's new state-of-the-art psychiatric hospital is slated to open without a corresponding full EHR system, the Burlington Free Press reported. The hospital was to have built upon a system housed in a nearby hospital, but negotiations regarding the upgrade fell apart. In the meantime, the hospital will use a hybrid medical records system of EHR and paper and a separate electronic prescribing system. Article

> The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has explained the new transparency rules in the 2014 edition of EHR certification, which had been added based on stakeholder input. The first new provision requires that the test results on which an ONC-ACB based its certification decision be publicly accessible. The second requires the ONC-ACB to ensure that EHR technology developers disclose whether there are additional costs providers would incur to attempt to attain Meaningful Use. Blog post

Health Finance News

> National Quality Forum Chief Executive Officer Christine Cassel is receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to sit on the boards of group purchasing cooperative Premier, Inc. and Kaiser Foundation Health Plans--a financial conflict of interest, according to the non-profit investigative foundation ProPublica. The NQF helps formulate and evaluate more than 700 different quality measures for hospitals, and medical ethicists believe Premier and Kaiser's payments create undue influence. It was suggested that Cassel either resign from the positions or forego payments in order to uncloud her relationships. Article

> Many states are using the cost-cutting impetus of the Affordable Care Act to combine their Medicare and Medicaid programs, thus saving money on the care provided for enrollees, StateLine reports. Massachusetts has already combined the two programs to serve so-called dual-eligibles--those who qualify for Medicare but whose low incomes also mean they qualify for Medicaid--and 18 other states plan to roll out similar mergers between now and 2015. Article

Health Insurance News

> Tax preparers may be a key source of assistance for the millions of uninsured consumers--including young adults--who remain uneducated about how the Affordable Care Act can help them obtain health coverage. More than 74 percent of uninsured consumers who qualify for insurance affordability programs under the ACA file federal income tax returns. Of that group, more than 90 percent are under 35 years old and eligible for subsidies, according to a new brief from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Article

> Despite public outcry about insurers canceling individual plans, the Affordable Care Act doesn't create major disruptions throughout the health insurance industry, according to a policy brief from the Urban Institute. Besides, making much-needed reforms to health insurance is impossible without some sort of interruption or disturbance to the status quo. "Despite claims to the contrary, it is not possible to reform our health insurance arrangements without somehow disrupting existing arrangements," Judy Feder, a fellow at the Urban Institute's Health Policy Center, wrote in the brief. Article

And Finally... Well, they'll probably break fewer laws than 'real' humans. Article