American Benefits Council
Benefits Byte


April 6, 2015

The Benefits Byte is the American Benefits Council’s regular e-mail and online newsletter for members only, providing timely reports on legislative, regulatory and judicial developments, along with updates on the Council’s activities in support of employer-sponsored benefit plans.

The Benefits Byte is published by the American Benefits Council, based on staff reports and edited by Jason Hammersla, Council director of communications. Contact information for Council staff related to specific topics can be found at the end of each story.

Click here to read past issues on the Benefits Byte Archive page.

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Council Joins Consumer-Purchaser Alliance in Comments to HHS Recommending Ways to Expand Interoperability of Health Information Technology

The Council and eleven other organizations signed on to an April 3 letter submitted by the Consumer-Purchaser Alliance to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). The communication concerns the draft “roadmap” for expanding health information technology (health IT) interoperability – allowing different information technology systems and software applications to exchange and use shared data.

The Council participates in the Consumer-Purchaser Alliance, a coalition of leading consumer, employer and labor groups working together to promote the use of performance measurement in health care to inform consumer choice and value-based purchasing and payment.

The ONC has drafted a Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap “to advance the country towards an interoperable health IT ecosystem” over the next 10 years. The draft outlines three pathways to achieve health IT interoperability: (1) requiring standards, (2) implementing “appropriate” incentives to motivate use of the standards and (3) creating trust for the collection, sharing and use of electronic health information.

The Consumer-Purchaser Alliance letter commends the ONC for recognizing “the need for true interoperability to empower a learning health system” and for laying a clear path to achieving that goal. The letter also suggests components that could be built into the Roadmap to ensure further interoperability, including:

  • A supportive business and regulatory environment aligning the public and private sectors;
  • Moving up the timeframe for integrating patient-generated health data; and
  • Prioritizing “measures of impact and outcome over measures of adoption, capability and information flow and usage” in evaluating progress and success.

This communication is one expression of the Council’s activity and support for improvements in the quality and affordability of health care services by integratinginteroperable health IT. For more information, contact Katy Spangler, senior vice president, health policy, at (202) 289-6700.

A Bit About Your Benefits: Council is Now a SHRM Preferred Provider for Professional Development Credits

One of the important values of Council membership for you and other colleagues in your organization is the ability to use participation in our webinars toward meeting certain continuing education requirements. We are already authorized for several state bar association continuing legal education requirements. We are also pleased to report that the Council is now recognized by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CPSM or SHRM-SCPSM programs. PDCs are available for webinars covering knowledge topics in the functional areas of HR Expertise Total Rewards, HR in the Global Context and U.S. Employment Law & Regulations.

To self-submit for PDCs (or other continuing education credits for other accrediting bodies and Bar associations), please retain the confirmation e-mail you receive when you register for a webinar. Additional information – such as the program’s moderator, agenda, date and time, and subject matter – is listed in the Council’s Webinar Archive. At the bottom of the archive page, you will find links to requirements for specific organizations and the needed forms for credit self-submission. Council verification of your attendance may also be requested 48 hours after a program by clicking here.

A summary of information about the Council’s assistance with continuing education credits is available by clicking here. For more information or to request participation verification for a specific webinar, contact Deanna Johnson, director, membership, or Mary Lindsay, receptionist, at (202) 289-6700. 

The American Benefits Council is the national trade association for companies concerned about federal legislation and regulations affecting all aspects of the employee benefits system. The Council's members represent the entire spectrum of the private employee benefits community and either sponsor directly or administer retirement and health plans covering more than 100 million Americans.

Notice: the information contained herein is general in nature. It is not, and should not be construed as, accounting, consulting, legal or tax advice or opinion provided by the American Benefits Council or any of its employees. As required by the IRS, we inform you that any information contained herein was not intended or written to be used or referred to, and cannot be used or referred to (i) for the purpose of avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code, or (ii) in promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein (and any attachment).