Funding discord could cause state's private HIE to be publicly run

The board of the Kansas Health Information Exchange Inc. is meeting this week to discuss whether to dissolve the quasi-public HIE and roll it into one being set up by the state.

The group regulates two health information networks in the state, but recently learned annual operating costs would run close to $400,000, according to a report by the Kansas Health Institute. Exchange officials estimated the typical hospital would pay about $6,800 in fees to pay those administrative costs; physicians would pay between $73 and $117.

State officials last month proposed transferring the exchange's regulatory authority to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and absorbing the cost of operations, the Kansas Health Institute reports. The state says it would slash those costs by more than half, with taxpayers picking up the remaining bill.

Kansas, which created its HIE in 2010, is among several states struggling with how to best implement and manage HIEs linking regional exchange networks.  The Health Information Partnership for Tennessee dissolved last month after the state moved in June to cancel its contract. The organization was created in 2009 to provide infrastructure for the exchange, but the state decided this summer to adopt Direct Project protocols for secure health information messaging.

California's HIE is in transition, too, with Cal eConnect stepping down as state-designated HIE partner in favor of the University of California at Davis Health System, according to a report by Government Health IT.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts secured $16.9 million in funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to create a health information exchange, the first in state in the nation to do so. The HIE will be launched in three phases by Orion Health.

The funding, announced last week, comes from grants through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and through Medicaid.

To learn more:
- read the Kansas Health Institute report
- see the Government Health IT report