CA Releases $50M Grant to Support CalHHS Data Exchange Framework

The CalHHS grant program aims to bolster the adoption and implementation of the data exchange framework among health and human services associations before the January 31, 2023 deadline.

The California Governor and State Legislature have allocated $50 million towards the California Health and Human Services Agency (CalHHS) Data Exchange Framework to support statewide implementation among healthcare and human services organizations.

As the deadline for the CalHHS Data Exchange Framework agreement approaches, the agency will administer grants to support data sharing education, signatory onboarding to a qualified health information organization (QHIO), and other technical assistance to help signatories meet implementation requirements.

“The Governor and Legislature made data exchange a top priority in this year’s state budget, setting aside resources that can help providers prepare to safely and securely share health information. We are excited to announce this educational initiative grant funding to ensure health and human service organizations across California have the support they need to provide whole person care to every Californian through the real-time exchange of data and information,” Mark Ghaly, MD, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, said in the press release.

“The seamless exchange of data is essential to advancing health equity in California and delivering on our vision of a Healthy California for All. Organizations are joining the Data Exchange Framework from all corners of California, and we look forward to many more signing by January 31, 2023.”

During this initial round of funding, 13 leading health and human services associations and partners will receive educational initiative grants of nearly $3 million to support the implementation of the framework through education and outreach.

Specifically, the onboarding grants will offer funding to cover the initial costs of connecting to a QHIO, and the educational grants will help nonprofit associations representing signatories to provide education and training for organizations that will sign the data sharing agreement (DSA).

By January 31, 2023, hospitals, physician practices, and certain other entities must sign a data sharing agreement (DSA) governing participation in the CalHHS Data Exchange Framework. Once the Framework takes full effect on January 31, 2024, parties must exchange health data with other Framework participants.

Healthcare and social services providers, including counties, community-based organizations, emergency medical services, and unspecified mental health providers, are not required but can decide whether to sign the DSA.

The framework includes two main elements: (1) a single data sharing agreement to be executed by framework participants and (2) a standard set of policies and procedures that framework participants will follow.

Framework participants are required, when requested by another participant, to exchange “health and social services information” for specific purposes, including treatment, payment, and confident “healthcare operations.” While HIPAA permits sharing information for these purposes, the framework makes these exchanges obligatory.

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