AMIA, Pew Charitable Trusts call for ONC funding to support EHR reporting program

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In a letter to lawmakers, AMIA and Pew called the implementation of the EHR reporting program "paramount." (Getty/MrLonelyWalker)

The American Medical Informatics Association and Pew Charitable Trusts have called on congressional leaders to ensure that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has the funding it needs to implement an EHR reporting program.

The request comes more than a month after ONC Deputy National Coordinator Jon White, M.D., told lawmakers that the agency was unable to create an EHR reporting program, required under the 21st Century Cures Act. It's the only provision of the law the agency could not comply with based on pending budget cuts, he said. 

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The Cures Act requires ONC to convene a group of stakeholders no later than one year after the passage of the bill to develop reporting criteria for EHR vendors regarding security, usability, interoperability and compliance with certification testing.

In a letter (PDF) to House and Senate leaders, representatives from AMIA and Pew Charitable Trusts pushed for more funding that would ensure ONC can establish the EHR reporting program. The organizations noted that EHR reporting is a vital component to another part of the Cures Act that requires EHR vendors to conduct real-world testing and attest that they aren’t engaging in information blocking.

“The EHR reporting program—coupled with its inclusion as part of the new conditions of certification—will help foster better information on the benefits and shortcomings of different health information technology systems,” the letter states. “Since EHRs are foundational to many other goals of the Cures Act, the timely development and implementation of these programs is paramount.”

Although White indicated ONC would not be able to establish the program given the president’s proposed $22 million budget cut, the agency’s 2018 budget is still up in the air. While an appropriations bill that passed the House includes the 37% reduction, a bill that’s still under consideration in the Senate would maintain the ONC’s budget at $60 million.