National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics

Executive Subcommittee Conference Call

July 15, 2005

Final Summary

The NCVHS Executive Subcommittee held a conference call on Friday, July 15, 2005 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to: 1) discuss NCVHS membership 2) review agendas for the August 15-16 retreat and the September 8-9, 2005 Full Committee Meeting, and 3) plan for future meetings.

Executive Subcommittee Members:

  • Simon Cohn, M.D., M.P.H.
  • Jeff Blair, M.B.A
  • Robert Hungate
  • Harry Reynolds
  • Mark Rothstein, J.D.

Staff and Liaisons:

  • Marjorie Greenberg, Executive Secretary (NCHS)
  • Jim Scanlon, Executive Staff Director (ASPE)
  • Maya Bernstein, J.D. (ASPE)
  • Audrey Burwell (OMH)
  • Virginia Cain, Ph.D., (NIH) Liaison
  • Mary Jo Deering, Ph.D., (NIH)
  • Maria Friedman, DBA., (CMS)
  • Debbie Jackson (NCHS)
  • Anna Poker (AHRQ)
  • Steve Steindel, Ph.D., (CDC) Liaison
  • Marietta Squire (NCHS)


  • Michael Fitzmaurice, Ph.D. (AHRQ) Liaison
  • Kathleen Fyffe (ASPE)
  • Ed Sondik, Ph.D., (NCHS) Liaison
  • Donald Steinwachs, Ph.D.
  • Karen Trudel (CMS) Liaison

Discussion Topics:

1) NCVHS Membership

The meeting was called to order by the Chairman, Dr. Simon Cohn. In terms of Committee membership, Jim Scanlon indicated that the Department is still seeking suggestions to fill the one remaining vacancy, through the retirement of Peggy Handrich. A candidate with a public health perspective and background, and special interests in state Medicare/Medicaid would be an asset to the Committee; a consumer representative/ advocate was also mentioned as desirable. The Department would like a nomination in August or early Sept. Expiration dates were also reviewed for the two congressional appointees on the Committee, with hopes that their appointments will be finalized before their six-month extensions expire.

2) Executive Subcommittee Retreat (August 15-16, 2005—San Francisco)

The members discussed the need to elevate the perceived role of NCVHS relative to the Secretary’s accelerated agenda and priorities. In light of this, the meeting that the Chairman had with the Secretary (early June) was applauded as quite productive. The briefing documents prepared for that session remain under review by the Committee and should be considered working documents for now. The materials will probably be released for posting later, perhaps with an additional update letter to be included.


The members noted that the Charter for the new Committee for the American Health Information Community (AHIC) has just been posted, and although NCVHS was not identified, Simon has been assured of the Secretary’s interest in NCVHS, potential for collaborating on projects, and positive reference to the Committee in public sessions such as during a recent video conference. The Committee will consider preparing a letter to reiterate its interest in the Secretary’s efforts, delineate related areas of expertise and experience, and express willingness to support the initiatives. After a brief discussion of the “early use cases” identified, such as lab, e-prescribing, biosurveillence, the Committee opted not to endorse anything officially, and will instead highlight how the AHICs can take advantage of the Committee’s work and expertise in getting standards approved and accepted, and suggest future use cases. The Executive Committee also expressed an interest in seeing if the Secretary could actually attend an upcoming meeting. Staff will follow up to determine any availability.


The members also noted the new expanding role of AHRQ, which is becoming prominent in the Secretary’s IT implementation plans for funding, and agenda setting. Scott Young (AHRQ) has been invited to the August retreat to provide insight into these developments. Additional input about AHRQ and the agency’s new adjusted priorities, shifting priorities, and impact can be provided at the full meeting. With Dr. Moy presenting the Quality and Disparity reports in September, perhaps Dr. Carolyn Clancy, AHRQ Administrator, can provide a briefing in November. Staff will pursue this possibility.


The Committee should also be briefed about the reorganization of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), specifically, the appointment of a new Chief Medical Officer – this item will be considered for late fall. Several Exc Subc members expressed concern about current plans in development at DHS about standards, collecting information, and medical informatics, and expressed a strong desire to have input. Staff will pursue any possibilities of inviting the new Chief to the Committee– at the full NCVHS level, to Standards and Security, or to the Executive Subcommittee.

Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC)

The Executive Subcommittee clarified the distinction between NCVHS, which is more policy oriented, and the BSC which, in addition to advising at a more technical level, has a direct and immediate focus on NCHS program activities. The members appreciated the need for BSC to be represented at the retreat, and staff will work with BSC officials to assure a substantive discussion of issues. For example, what are the strategies for both groups to advance health statistics? How do we plan for a joint session, or joint projects? Bill Scanlon has agreed to serve as NCVHS Liaison to the Board. The Board is starting its NCHS program review with vital statistics

The Executive Subcommittee will also finalize the Populations report (approved at the June meeting), and at a later date will explore how to coordinate with NCHS/BSC on implementing the report’s recommendations. The Executive Subcommittee will continue defining and updating the various Subcommittee and Workgroup workplans at the retreat. In addition, the Executive Subcommittee will discuss ways to develop a communication strategy to help convey the mission, role and achievements of the NCVHS to the outside world and better position the Committee for future developments. Finally, Marjorie will apprise the members about the current budget, and the need to be mindful of using limited resources most efficiently and effectively. The Executive Subcommittee agreed that decisions about NCVHS expenditures should be based on “value added.”

3) Review of September 8-9, 2005 agenda

The following actions are anticipated—

  • 2003-2004 NCVHS Report
  • HIPAA Report (Drafts need to go to Standards and Privacy for input/review)
  • NHII letter on PHR

A letter from the Subcommittee on Standards and Security on e-prescribing is still under development for consideration at a later meeting.

Presentations include a briefing on the AHRQ Reports on Quality and Disparities, status of RFP responses/Update from ONCHIT, a briefing from the Subcommittee on Privacy and Confidentiality about its report to be submitted in November, and highlights about the Executive Subcommittee retreat. In discussing the NHII letter, the members wondered if a presentation by David Lansky would help put the issues in perspective, and asked Mary Jo to invite him (Dr. Lansky has since been contacted and has agreed to present).

The future NCVHS agendas look fine for next steps and directions. The Executive Subcommittee adjourned with prospects for a productive August retreat and full September meeting agenda.

Call adjourned at 1:00 p.m. EDT