ONC to create industry data standard for patient addresses

HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on Tuesday unveiled plans to develop an industrywide data standard for documenting addresses in healthcare.

The project, dubbed Project [email protected], will launch early next year. ONC plans to issue the standard for documenting patient addresses in 2021.

“This a completable project within the year,” Steve Posnack, ONC’s deputy national coordinator for health IT, said at a virtual event spotlighting application programming interface projects Tuesday, where the agency announced the new project.

Posnack said ONC is working with such standards development organizations as Health Level 7, the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs and X12 for Project [email protected]

HL7, which oversees the popular Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources framework, will head up project management.

“As mundane as address may seem it is often one of the key elements used for the purposes of patient matching and linking records,” Posnack

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Congress returns with virus aid, federal funding unresolved

After months of shadowboxing amid a tense and toxic campaign, Capitol Hill’s main players are returning for one final, perhaps futile, attempt at deal-making on a challenging menu of year-end business.

COVID-19 relief, a $1.4 trillion catchall spending package, and defense policy — and a final burst of judicial nominees — dominate a truncated two- or three-week session occurring as the coronavirus pandemic rockets out of control in President Donald Trump’s final weeks in office.

The only absolute must-do business is preventing a government shutdown when a temporary spending bill expires on Dec. 11. The route preferred by top lawmakers like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is to agree upon and pass an omnibus spending bill for the government. But it may be difficult to overcome bitter divisions regarding a long-delayed COVID-19 relief package that’s a top priority of business, state and local

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With no action by Washington, states race to offer virus aid

Faulting inaction in Washington, governors and state lawmakers are racing to get pandemic relief to small-business owners, the unemployed, renters and others whose livelihoods have been upended by the widening coronavirus outbreak.

In some cases, elected officials are spending the last of a federal relief package passed in the spring as an end-of-year deadline approaches and the fall COVID-19 surge threatens their economies anew. Democrats have been the most vocal in criticizing President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled Senate for failing to act, but many Republican lawmakers are also sounding the alarm.

Underscoring the need for urgency, the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the United States reached 205,557 on Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University – the first time its daily figure topped the 200,000 mark. Its previous daily high was 196,000 on Nov. 20.

The total number of cases reported in the U.S., since the

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4 healthcare issues to watch as Congress faces a funding deadline next month

Congress is working to avert a government shutdown on Dec. 11, and providers are lobbying to ensure several of their healthcare policy priorities are addressed.

When lawmakers most recently extended the government funding deadline in September, they included one of providers’ top priorities by relaxing repayment terms for COVID-19 Medicare loans. Providers see several opportunities for getting other key policies included in Congress’ next must-pass bill.

Extend Medicare sequester suspension

Congress suspended sequestration cuts to Medicare in its third and largest COVID-19 stimulus package in March. While some policies that gave relief to providers are tied to the HHS secretary’s public health emergency declaration, a suspension of Medicare sequestration cuts expires at the end of 2020. Hospitals have argued that funds shouldn’t be cut now, as providers are simultaneously bracing for more surges and preparing to distribute vaccines in the coming months.

Physician fee schedule cuts

Medicare pay cuts

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CMS expands hospitals’ flexibility for ‘at-home’ acute care

CMS on Wednesday said hospitals won’t have to provide around-the-clock access to nursing services for patients who receive acute care services at home.

In an update to its “Hospitals Without Walls” program that launched in March, CMS added new regulatory flexibilities that would allow hospitals to expand acute care services outside of their facilities.

Hospitals can apply for a waiver that would allow then to transfer Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries who are in the emergency department or admitted as inpatients to their homes for continued care with daily monitoring, evaluations and in-person visits from clinical staff.

“We’re at a new level of crisis response with COVID-19 and CMS is leveraging the latest innovations and technology to help healthcare systems that are facing significant challenges to increase their capacity to make sure patients get the care they need,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a released statement. “With new areas across

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