ONC expects mission will continue during Trump presidency
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT expects to weather the political changes resulting from a new Trump administration and the 21st Century Cures bill, expected to be signed into law soon.
The ONC is currently led by National Coordinator Vindell Washington, MD, ascending to the position in August—his position is appointed and could change under the new administration.
Speaking at Tuesday’s joint meeting of the Health IT Policy and Standards Committees, ONC’s Deputy National Coordinator Jon White, MD, reassured its members that while “there is an upcoming change in administration,” the statutory mission of ONC is firmly entrenched.
“Prior to 2009, ONC existed through executive order. But since 2009, ONC has existed under statute,” said White. “Our statutory mission—which is to improve the health and the well-being of individuals and communities through the use of technology and health information that is accessible where and when it matters most—is going to continue.”
White predicted a smooth transition for the new Trump administration, but beyond that, he would not speculate on what the change in the executive branch would mean for the agency. “The future is going to hold what it’s going to hold, and we’re going to go bravely into it,” White added.
ONC's deputy national coordinator noted that the Senate is poised to vote on the 21st Century Cures bill, which was overwhelmingly passed last week by the House of Representatives. The Senate is slated to vote today on the legislation, which has several health IT-related provisions. President Obama said he will sign the bill as as soon as it reaches his desk.
“I normally don’t comment on pending legislation. However, this particular bill has passed the House, the Senate has invoked cloture on it by a fairly broad margin, and the Administration has issued a fairly strong statement of support,” said White.
“If Cures is enacted, we’re going to look forward to working to implement the provisions of the bill. For this group, in particular, I want you to know that we’re going to work to ensure an orderly transition from the current committee setup to the Health IT Advisory Committee described in the bill,” he said.
As directed in Sec. 4003 of the bill, a new Health IT Advisory Committee will be established and “shall serve to unify the roles of, and replace, the HIT Policy Committee and the HIT Standards Committee, as in existence before the date of the enactment of the 21st Century Cures Act.” Specifically, the HIT Advisory Committee is to make interoperability a priority.
The committee is to recommend to the National Coordinator for HIT “standards, implementation specifications and certification criteria, relating to the implementation of a health information technology infrastructure, nationally and locally, that advances the electronic access, exchange and use of health information.”