National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics

Executive Subcommittee Conference Call

January 21, 2005

Final Summary

The NCVHS Executive Subcommittee held a conference call on Friday, January 21, 2005 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to: 1) discuss NCVHS membership and Committee transitions, 2) review action items for the March 3-4, 2005 Full Committee Meeting, and 3) discuss scheduled presentations for the March meeting.

Executive Subcommittee Members:

  • Simon Cohn, M.D., M.P.H.
  • Robert Hungate
  • Mark Rothstein, J.D.

Former Members:

  • Vickie Mays, Ph.D., M.S.P.H.
  • John Lumpkin, M.D., M.P.H.

Staff and Liaisons:

  • Marjorie Greenberg, Executive Secretary (NCHS)
  • Jim Scanlon, Executive Staff Director (ASPE)
  • Audrey Burwell (OMH)
  • Mary Jo Deering, Ph.D., (NIH)
  • Maria Friedman, J.D., (CMS)
  • Kathleen Fyffe (ASPE)
  • Debbie Jackson (NCHS)
  • Katherine Jones (NCHS)
  • Anna Poker (AHRQ)
  • Steve Steindel, Ph.D., (CDC) Liaison


  • Judith Berek (CMS) Liaison
  • Virginia Cain, Ph.D., (NIH) Liaison
  • Michael Fitzmaurice, Ph.D. (AHRQ) Liaison
  • Aldona Robbins, Ph.D., (BSC) Liaison
  • Ed Sondik, Ph.D., (NCHS) Liaison

Discussion Topics:

1) NCVHS Membership

Meeting was called to order by Dr. Simon Cohn, newly appointed Chair to the NCVHS.  Jim Scanlon announced actions taken by the Secretary, DHHS last week in appointing new members to the Committee.  He was informed that the Department decided not to extend any current appointments.  Consequently, the terms for Dr. Vickie Mays, Eugene Lengerich and Dr. John Lumpkin have ended.  Jim could not provide details regarding the appointments of the three new members, but indicated that information will be circulated once they accept the invitations to serve.  The three new members would contribute to the Committee in the areas of NHII, research and statistics, and health plan statistics (actuarial).  Previously the NCVHS Charter allowed a member to serve until a new member took his or her place.  However, because of changes in the Department and the charter, members are allowed to only serve 180 days beyond the expiration date of their appointment.  The Committee is very much in the public eye, and we have to be precise and explicit about how these changes are reflected.  We expect to have the new members on board at the March meeting (We may also schedule an orientation session with the new members before the March meeting.)

Simon Cohn has been appointed as the chairman of NCVHS by the Secretary for a two-year term.  Jim Scanlon will be working with the Secretary’s Office to secure the formal letter appointing Simon as Chair.  Simon acknowledged the contributions of the outgoing members and particularly Dr. Lumpkin with whom he has worked for over eight years.  We will recognize the former members, welcome the new members, and hold a dinner celebration on March 3rd in their honor.

Simon indicated that the Executive Subcommittee will be spending some time over the next several weeks reviewing transitions throughout the entire Committee.  On a very personal basis, he is very sad to see John go off the Committee and will continue to ask for his guidance and support as we move forward; all agreed that these are interesting and challenging times for the full Committee.  Simon also thanked Vickie and indicated that he was sad to see her go as well.  Simon further indicated that he will be reviewing how to transition new chairs to the various subcommittees and workgroups.  Heartfelt thanks and sadness were expressed by everyone for those transitioning off the Committee, while recognizing that this is the nature of advisory committees.

There are two congressional appointments that will also end this year.  However, Congress may decide to extend the appointments for Jeff Blair and Richard Harding.

***Action—we will schedule another conference call on Friday, February 25th from 11:00 – 1:00 p.m. to continue discussions on transition planning.***

2) March 3-4 NCVHS Meeting

Letter on e-Prescribing will have three parts to it:  Electronic signature and e-prescribing, privacy issues related to e-Prescribing, and a set of follow-up recommendations related to the previous letter.  The letter will be available to the Executive Subcommittee before the February 25th conference call and probably will come forward by the weekend of 2/20.  All of the issues will be presented in a simplified and understandable manner such that the new members are able to discuss the issues and vote as needed.

Populations Report – Vickie indicated that a draft will go to the Executive Subcommittee before the full meeting in March.   Vickie further indicated that NCHS staff has played a key role in commenting on the draft report, and she just received the last set of comments a week ago.  She will go through those and work with the writer to forward a document to the Executive Subcommittee.  Vickie initially thought that the new members would benefit from a pre-session to give them a “head’s up” about things they will vote on.  She indicated that it is not a matter of whether people will understand the issues, but that they may have questions as to why certain issues/perspectives were omitted from the report.  Many of the recommendations were noted in the commentary that was approved by the full Committee during the June, 2004 meeting.  Therefore, it is not a new subject for the current members.  It was agreed that the Commentary will be sent to the new members as background.

The Subcommittee on Privacy has a letter that is ready to be distributed to the Executive Subcommittee.  The issues discussed and recommendations concern security standards for legacy medical devices.  The letter, after vetting by the Executive Subcommittee, will be included in the agenda books for a vote at the March meeting.  There are no letters that are coming out of the three topics of the recent hearings held January 11-12.

It is anticipated that a new Secretary will be in place by the time we meet in March.  Hopefully we can have some representation at the March meeting from the Secretary’s Office (ideally, we can have the new Secretary thank the outgoing members and welcome the new ones).  Jim will check on this.

Dr. Sondik will give his “State of the Center” presentation and share any updates about NCHS as well as activities within the Coordinating Center for Health Information and Services (CoCHIS).

Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC) Meeting –We will be reviewing how we will transition the role of NCVHS Liaison to the BSC.  The BSC will meet on January 27-28.  Vickie indicated that we should be sure to continue to provide the BSC with copies of our agenda so that they may see the range of issues being reviewed by the NCVHS.   Jim Scanlon indicated that we can not have Vickie attend the BSC meeting as a representative of NCVHS, but we may be able to have her attend as a consultant.  Simon and Vickie will talk further to determine if she should attend the 1/27-28 BSC meeting and get back to us.  (It has since been decided by the new chair, Simon Cohn, that Vickie will attend the meeting as an “expert”, and NCHS agreed to make the travel arrangements.)

Geo-coding – Debbie will work with Dale Hitchcock on this presentation regarding federal initiatives in geocoding.  The contractor, Dan Melnick, will give a presentation about the government wide initiative on March 4; a second speaker also is being sought.

The responses to the ONCHIT RFI on the National Health Information Network (NHIN) were due on January 18; Kathleen Fyffe indicated that they received hundreds of responses.  A working group of staff from all around HHS is helping with cataloguing the responses.  We should be able to have a briefing on the NHIN and RFI responses at the June Meeting.  However, Kathleen will check to see if Dr. Brailer may want to give a short update at the March Meeting.  (Subsequently, it was agreed that Dr. Brailer would meet with the Committee on the afternoon of March 3.)  We will also invite him to the dinner.

We are planning to have the ANSI HISB presentation in June.  Dr. Cohn suggested exploring whether this should be included in a larger discussion on national and international standards.

3) Future Meetings

Mark Rothstein indicated that two rounds of hearings will be held on the NHIN.  The first hearing will be held February 23-24 in Washington and the second hearing will be held March 30-31 in Chicago.  The February hearings will include leading experts in the field of health privacy and bioethics (including public opinion and cultural aspects).  The second set of hearings will hear from disease advocacy groups.  We are moving the hearings to Chicago to hear from AMA, AHA, etc.  Mary Jo Deering indicated that one possibility would be to work jointly with the Subcommittee on Privacy for the February hearing to optimize use of the consumer panels for NHII.

4) Miscellaneous

We will be sending out the agenda books for the March full Committee Meeting by 2/18.  All outstanding action items will have to be transmitted electronically if they do not meet the deadline for the books.  The transmittal included in the books will alert folks about the forthcoming action items.

Members and staff were reminded to ask speakers invited to present at the Committee meetings/hearings to bring copies of their presentations as well as the electronic version (disk, CD, min-flash, etc.).  It becomes a hassle when staff has to take the time to print the documents, copy the documents, and upload the documents on the PC in a very short timeframe.  It further delays distribution of the printed documents to the audience and may further delay the presentation itself.  We need for the lead staff to remind the presenters to please bring enough printed presentations for fifty people.  If this is not possible, they definitely should bring at least one printed copy.

NCVHS 2003-2004 Biennial Report – We are going back over previous reports to pull out past research recommendations that should be highlighted. The 2003-2004 report will not include any future research issues that might arise from recent recommendations.  This will be for discussion at future NCVHS meetings and in subsequent reports.  Marjorie indicated that John would probably write the forward along with Simon for the biennial report.  We would like to finalize the report at the June meeting as an action item.  There will not be a draft of the full report at the March meeting.

The Executive Subcommittee will plan a meeting in the spring.  We are not sure of the venue.  However, Simon indicated that he would be happy to provide hospitality for the spring or summer meeting in California.

We recommend against scheduling meetings for immediately after the New Year.  There was tremendous difficulty confirming speakers, obtaining documents, assigning staff, etc. for the early January meetings.  There was agreement that it was very complex holding meetings right after the holidays and probably not worth attempting to repeat in the future.

Call adjourned at 1:00 p.m. EDT