CMS looks to develop computer matching agreements for data hub

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services plans to form computer matching agreements with the Internal Revenue Service and the Veterans Health Administration to help regulate information to be shared via the Affordable Care Act's data hub, it announced this week.

In a post published Wednesday in the Federal Register, CMS said that the purpose of the agreement is to "establish the terms, conditions, safeguards and procedures" that will govern the information gathering process.

"Return information will be matched by CMS in its capacity as the federally facilitated exchange, or by an administering entity for the purpose of determining eligibility for insurance affordability programs," the notice stated. "Return information also will be matched for determining eligibility for certain certificates of exemption."

The matching program will begin no sooner than 40 days after a report on the initiative is sent to both the Office of Management and Budget and congress, or 30 days after its publication in the Federal Register, whichever is later. It will continue for 18 months, and can be renewed every 12 months, thereafter, according to the notice.

The hub has come under heavy scrutiny over concerns that it will be a privacy risk for Americans. For instance, legislation introduced last month by Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.) called for a one-year delay in the launch of the hub. Meehan, in a statement about the legislation, said the abuse and theft potential for information stored in the hub is "unprecedented."

Earlier this week, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ken.) called for a delay in the opening of all of the exchanges, also citing security concerns with the data hub.

"Given the compressed time frame between the conclusion of the system testing and the scheduled opening of the exchanges, I am asking you to delay opening the exchanges until the Inspector General can guarantee the safety of the exchanges," McConnell said. "While I have grave concerns about this law under any circumstance, Americans should not be forced into the exchanges, and certainly not without these assurances."

To learn more:
- read the Federal Register notice

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