HHS ONC Extends 21st Century Cures Act Final Rule Compliance Dates

Yesterday the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) announced an Interim Final Rule extending the compliance deadlines for certain requirements of ONC’s final rule released to the public in March of this year related to the interoperability and information blocking provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act. The first deadline would have been this coming Monday, November 2, but the earliest deadline is now April 5, 2021. HHS’s announcement of the extension, along with a chart of the new deadlines, is available here.

The new timeline is in recognition of ongoing efforts to address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the initial wave of the pandemic across the US, ONC announced in April that it would exercise enforcement discretion for a period of three months after the deadlines of certain requirements. However, since ONC was exercising this discretion outside of the rulemaking process, the deadlines themselves remained the same. Thus, many stakeholders have spent the last few months pushing for a formal deadline extension as realized in yesterday’s Interim Final Rule.

HHS makes clear in its announcement that while deadlines have been pushed back, the requirements of ONC’s March final rule will ultimately come into effect. For that reason, it is important to maintain forward momentum toward achieving compliance with the interoperability and information blocking rules, as may be applicable.

This post supplements and updates our September 2, 2020 article on this topic.