GIC HIMSS Advocacy Updates: July 1st 2020

By Charlie Hart (Advocacy Chair)

What is advocacy in the context of GICHIMSS? To understand advocacy it helps to understand HIMSS vision and mission.

HIMSS Vision: To realize the full health potential of every human, everywhere.

HIMSS Mission: Reform the global health ecosystem through the power of information and technology.

To that end, our job is to advocate on behalf of our organization and community about issues important to furthering health information and technology policy and ensure state government officials are aware of our members’ qualification as a health information and technology subject matter expert.


Telehealth HIMSS Advocacy 

HIMSS joined with 340 organizations to sign a letter urging Congressional leaders to make telehealth flexibilities created during the COVID-19 pandemic permanent. Those signing this multi-stakeholder letter include national and regional organizations representing a full range of health care stakeholders and all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Congress quickly waived statutory barriers to allow for expanded access to telehealth at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing federal agencies with the flexibility to allow healthcare providers to deliver care virtually. If Congress does not act before the COVID-19 public health emergency expires, current flexibilities will immediately disappear. Therefore, 340 stakeholders have sent a powerful message to Congress outlining the immediate actions necessary to ensure CMS has the authority to continue to make telehealth services available once the national health emergency is rescinded:

Remove obsolete restrictions on the location of the patient to ensure that all patients can access care at home, and other appropriate locations

Maintain and enhance HHS authority to determine appropriate providers and services for telehealth

Ensure Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics can furnish telehealth services after the public health emergency

Make permanent Health and Human Services (HHS) temporary waiver authority for future emergencies

While federal agencies can address some of these policies going forward, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) does not have the authority to make changes to Medicare reimbursement policy for telehealth under the outdated Section 1834(m) of the Social Security Act. Following these priorities will allow CMS to build on the experience gained during the pandemic and expand access to telehealth in a thoughtful, data-driven way.


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HIMSS Submits public comment Letter on 21st Centure Cures Act:

HIMSS offered feedback that focused on leveraging ideas from the 21st Century Cures Act that seek to put our health system and stakeholders on a path to transform healthcare. We fully support the efforts from across the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide patients with secure access to actionable information and sets a course for a healthcare paradigm that takes full advantage of the promise of standards-based application programming interface (API) technology.

HIMSS voiced support, at a high level, for the Information Blocking Exceptions in the proposed regulation, as they identify the appropriate categories that will help inform the community as well as define sharing boundaries and expectations that will lead to greater information exchange. Themes from the Information Blocking Exceptions all bolster ONC’s approach: implemented in a consistent and non-discriminatory manner; reasonably related and uniformly applied; and, based on objective and verifiable criteria.

Grassroots Call to Action! - 

Ever wonder who your federal, state and local representatives are? HIMSS advocacy can help. We have a useful site that can tell you, all you need is your zip code.

Who are your representatives?

HIMSS Advocacy

HIMSS Advocacy and Public Policy Center 
HIMSS mobilizes its members and other collaborators to successfully accomplish multiple levels of advocacy activities that are fueled by its members’ passion and experience. These activities include educating HIMSS members and Members of Congress and their staff on key issues to actually proposing and writing draft legislation. In addition, HIMSS works closely with key federal and state level decision-makers to advance improvements in the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare.

HIMSS Federal Affairs Center 
HIMSS Federal Affairs team leverages member and staff subject matter expertise to provide insight to key federal agency representatives, while promoting agency personnel involvement in HIMSS activities at the local, regional and national levels. 

Government Relations Team

The HIMSS Government Relations team is pleased to address your government relations questions and to assist our members during their trips to Washington, DC.

HIMSS Chapter Advocacy Program

With over 50 chapters in the United States, one of HIMSS’ many strengths is connecting HIMSS members with state, regional and national decision-makers on key health IT issues. HIMSS’ Chapter Advocacy program provides an opportunity for each HIMSS chapter to elect or appoint one or more members to serve in the Chapter Board level position as Chapter Advocate. Chapter Advocates and other volunteers interested in state level advocacy participate collectively in the Chapter Advocacy Roundtable (CAR). 

The CAR provides a networking and educational opportunity for Chapter Advocates to promote chapter level advocacy programs at the grassroots level in coordination with the HIMSS advocacy and public policy Board-approved agenda. Throughout the United States today, over 60 HIMSS Chapter Advocates are actively engaging state legislators through planning and facilitating advocacy outreach campaigns alongside their local chapters. 

What does it mean to be a Chapter Advocate? 
To advocate on behalf of your organization and community about issues important to furthering health IT policy and ensure state government officials are aware of your qualification as a health IT subject matter expert.

At the state and local levels, chapters will need to clearly define the role of the Chapter Advocacy Roundtable Member. The conduct of this role will vary among the states based on local membership and volunteer capabilities. The HIMSS State Government Affairs team will work with each Chapter to develop this position and will support the Chapter Advocacy Roundtable in a number of ways. The responsibilities of this role should minimally include:

  • Act as your Chapter’s connection to state level advocacy and keep members of your Board informed about campaign efforts 
  • Create an advocacy action plan specific to your community 
  • Recruit Chapter volunteers and other community leaders to join the campaign 
  • Plan a State Health IT/Advocacy Day to lead the chapter in developing and maintaining relationships with state elected officials
  • Attend or designate a chapter representative to sit in on monthly calls, quarterly regional calls and advocacy workshops to discuss current advocacy initiatives and provide feedback from local efforts
  • Attend or send a chapter representative to the annual HIMSS CAR Offsite Training held during HIMSS Policy Summit in Washington D.C.