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Alaska Solicits for a Health IT State Designated Entity

States are working furiously to get all their ducks in a row to prepare for the release of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act health information exchange (HIE) planning and implementation grants. Crucial preparation activities include, selecting a state-designated entity, developing a state plan, and establishing a governance model.

The state of Alaska, Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), in an effort to rally stakeholders and develop a statewide plan for the broad deployment of an HIE released a Request for Letters of Interest (RFLOI) on August 7, 2009. The state is seeking responses from qualified entities, as outlined in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), to create, operate, and promote the sustainable use of a statewide HIE. The notice indicates that the RFLOI is not a formal solicitation for services, but is an attempt to determine interest and availability of qualified entities. Deliverables could include, applying for government grants, submitting an annual budget, developing a statewide infrastructure, developing a state technology plan and periodic evaluations of HIE activity. Letters of Interest are due by August 18, 2009. For additional information please see GovWin Opportunity #57866.

Concurrent HIE activity in Alaska includes a Request for Information (RFI) released in June 2009 from Alaska eHealth Network (AeHN). AeHN was established as a nonprofit in 2008 to create a statewide, standards-based electronic health network. AeHN's has been involved in a telehealth grant from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and counts DHSS as an active participant. AeHN intends to apply and will be one of the leading entities considered for the state designee position. For additional information on the AeHN HIE RFI please see GovWin Opportunity #56042.

States that do not have a pre-established HIE organization are taking to soliciting applicants through a procurement process. However, it remains to be seen how selected state designated entities will choose contractors to provide technical assistance services; whether they will solicit through a state procurement channel or they will not be held accountable to the government's procurement process. Some states, such as Maryland, may even allow non-profit HIE applicants to submit a pre-selected vendor with their bid. Contractors need to develop strong relationships with entities vying for these highly prized state designated entity spots as money will be funneled through these entities for HIE grant activity.

Senate Committee Brings Cell Phone Jamming in Prisons One Step Closer to Reality

Yesterday the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Technology approved Senate Bill S251, the Safe Prisons Communications Act of 2009. The legislation will now move to the full Senate, a significant step in the process of becoming law. In July my colleague Jeff Webster attended the Committee's hearing and summarized the debate and contents of the bill .

Passage of this legislation would open up a market that was previously closed to public safety vendors. Those vendors would be wise to expect that upon passage quite a few cell jamming pilot projects will pop up across the country. In anticipation of this occurring GovWin has created 24 Opportunity Reports for each of the States that cosigned the South Carolina Department of Correction's petition to the FCC to allow jamming of Commercial Mobile Radio Services inside of prison complexes. This adds to the over 13 active Corrections projects GovWin has been monitoring with regard to Cell Phone Detection and surveillance, already underway within our nations prisons, etc.

Conversely, if the bill does not make it through the Senate, corrections officials may turn to Cell Phone Detection equipment as the weapon of choice to fight cell phone usage among inmates.

The only thing that is certain is that debate over the merits of this bill will heat up in the media as well as the Capitol building. Expect additional coverage from GovWin along the way.