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A doctor looks at patients' electronic medical records. Photo: Dominick Reuter/AFP via Getty Images

New federal proposals are hoping to tear down barriers among hospitals, doctors, insurers, health IT companies and patients that prevent the free, secure exchange of patient records and data.

Why it matters: It's 2019. And yet patients still can't easily obtain all of their medical information, and doctors still can't always receive or share important patient data with other clinicians.

The big picture: The public subsidized the multi-billion-dollar effort for hospitals, doctors and other providers to move from paper documents to electronic health records.

However:

  • Patients routinely complain about how difficult it is to collect their own records.
  • Health IT companies, hospitals and other providers have been found to engage in "information blocking," which includes practices like charging high fees to transfer records or denying the exchange of records between providers to control patient referrals.

What's next: The new proposed rules seek to alleviate these problems.

  • "Information blocking" is more specifically defined, although there are exceptions.
  • If hospitals want to stay in Medicare, for example, they will have to let other necessary doctors know when patients are admitted or discharged.
  • Patients with certain health plans can more easily get their claims data as soon as 2020.

Go deeper: The pitfalls of electronic health records

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.