The HIT Policy Committee met yesterday to hear recommendations from each of its workgroups on the Meaningful Use Proposed Rule and the Interim Final Rule on Standards. Each of the workgroups made presentations and received comments from the full Committee. Of note, the Policy Committee debated a recommendation that would allow eligible professionals and hospitals more flexibility in acheiving meaningful use and thereby qualifying for the incentive payments. Although the Policy Committee serves as an advisory body and has been advising the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) during the development of these rules, it will submit its comments to the agencies in a similar manner as the general public. Materials from the meeting may be found at the following address: http://healthit.hhs.gov/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=1269&&PageID=16497&mode=2&in_hi_userid=11113&cached=true.

In addition, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Labor Secretary Hilda Soldis announced grant awards for health information technology on February 12, 2010. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act appropriated $2 billion in discretionary funds to the ONC, which created a number of grant programs to encourage the adoption and use of HIT. Sebelius and Solis announced over $750 million in grants, which will be distributed to support state health information exchange, create regional extension centers, and train workers in the use of HIT. The news release, which includes the awardees and grant amounts may be found at the following address: http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2010pres/02/20100212a.html