“…and then there’s the all-important question: How are you going to pay for it?”
— David Ford, Vice President of Health Information Technology, California Medical Association (CMA)
Here are our two main takeaways from the January meeting of the Data Exchange Framework (DxF) Stakeholder Advisory Group:
Where’s the money? The most interesting and pointed exchange came in the last 15 minutes of the meeting when David Ford, Vice President of Health Information Technology at the California Medical Association, tackled the big “elephant in the Zoom” – funding. He noted it was a surprise to many that Governor Newsom’s proposed budget did not include any funding for health information exchange, despite the substantial data sharing gaps and needs identified in the advisory group discussions over the last several months.
In response, John Ohanian, CalHHS Chief Data Officer shared that “[our] plan is to put dollars and a plan in May [at the time the Governor’s budget is revised] and we’re working towards that right now,” which was encouraging – albeit belated – news to the group.
We are excited to hear that these efforts are underway. Without adequate funding, the goals of AB 133 and California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) simply cannot be achieved.
Manifest MedEx, in solidarity with more than 20 provider, health plan, and health information exchange (HIO) organizations, strongly believes the Governor needs to invest in provider data sharing and health data infrastructure. This coalition is calling for $100 million in 2022 General Funds to support two critical and interconnected programs:
Performance payments for Medi-Cal providers that join and share data with qualified HIOs, providing resources and motivation for small physician practices, behavioral health and safety-net clinics, skilled nursing facilities, county health and human services, and hospitals to join and share data with HIOs. Experience from other states and from within California demonstrates that financial incentives can rapidly accelerate data sharing.
Funding for qualified HIOs to build and maintain the health data infrastructure needed for CalAIM to succeed. California has committed more than $2.6 billion in state funds for this sweeping set of Medi-Cal delivery system reforms. But that commitment will falter without the timely clinical and other health data needed to coordinate care, improve quality, fill prevention gaps, identify high-risk patients and address disparities.
This week, a letter with the above budget request was sent to the Governor, California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), CalHHS, legislators, and other state policymakers. We invite others to join the coalition.
Don’t boil the ocean. There is widespread support for SDOH and demographic data sharing so that California can effectively address health disparities and implement CalAIM. But as Claudia Williams, CEO, Manifest MedEx cautioned, “Defining a data standard is step one in a very, very long journey to actually get people to share data using that standard.”
SDOH data collection is largely nascent, and demographic data collection is inconsistent. We should begin by learning to do a few foundational things well—particularly our collection, sharing, and use of data on race, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, and gender identity. This will give us experience not only with standards for demographic and social services information, but also the policies that help increase the flow and quality of this information.
With only a few DxF meetings left on the calendar before the Governor’s May Revision, we look forward to continuing conversations with key stakeholders about funding and how to incentive the real, working data exchange needed to achieve the promise of CalAIM and AB 133.
The Advisory Group convenes next on March 3, 2022, from 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM. We invite you to follow @ManifestMedEx on Twitter for live tweets, share your thoughts with us at https://www.manifestmedex.org/contact/, and stay tuned for more updates!
For a recap of past meetings, please check out News and Perspectives on our website.