Dec. 11: What better time to make news than when you're in front of Congress? Maybe the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's long-awaited data-blocking rule will drop before or during an oversight hearing by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. The committee will assess how ONC is doing in its implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act, which, among other things, required ONC to promulgate a rule to prevent, you guessed it, data-blocking. The rule has been hung up at the Office of Management and Budget since early fall.
Dec. 11: In one of his last acts as chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) will get one more chance to warn his colleagues of the nation's ballooning debt. The hearing title cuts to the point: “The National Debt: Washington, We Have a Spending Problem.” Hensarling, who is retiring at the end of the term, has been a vocal critic of Congress' failure to address the debt, including entitlement spending. But with Democrats taking over the House in January, the prospect for any reductions in entitlement spending is virtually nil.
Dec. 15: Record-low unemployment. Reduced funding for navigators and marketing. A shortened enrollment period. Zero tax penalty for not getting insurance. All of those contributed to a drop-off in people getting coverage on the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Sign-ups were down 11% through the first five weeks of open enrollment, which closes this weekend. The economic and policy implications of that decline is something that Modern Healthcare will certainly examine as we head into the 2019 plan year.