Senator: Dismantling Health Reform Would Hurt Health IT

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Dismantling the federal health reform law could slow the adoption of health IT and undermine the meaningful use program, according to a report released this week by the office of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), FierceEMR reports (Durben Hirsch, FierceEMR, 4/4).

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Overview of Report

The report -- titled, "Health Care Delivery System Reform and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" -- lists 45 of the health reform law's changes to the health care delivery system.

The report found that 25 of those reforms already have been fully implemented (Asinof, Providence Business News, 3/29).    

Whitehouse said, "Progress made on these efforts is steadily transforming the care that is delivered under our health care system" (Shiner, Roll Call, 3/29).

How Dismantling Reform Law Could Affect Health IT

The meaningful use program was created by the 2009 stimulus package, not by the reform law. However, the report noted that the reform law includes provisions designed to advance the goals of the meaningful use program by incorporating health IT into other initiatives, such as the Medicare Shared Savings Program, the Hospital Value Based Purchasing Program and other quality reporting efforts.

Whitehouse said, "The [reform law's] payment reforms, pilot projects and other delivery system reforms are built with the expectation of having IT-enabled providers." He added, "Indeed, the formation of [accountable care organizations] is contingent on having providers 'online' to transfer information and patient records, and report quality measures."

The report noted that repealing the health care overhaul might negatively affect health IT adoption because it would dismantle the reform law initiatives designed to support the goals of the meaningful use program (FierceEMR, 4/4).

Robert Forster
It might slow adoption down. But what if all of our wishful thinking prophets are wrong about the fiscal impact of a more connected digital healthcare delivery world? What if it is not a significant root cause for our quality and cost issues. Then slowing adoption will not have much impact on America. We have fundamental cultural issues to deal with like life style, obesity, lack of exercise which are primary drivers of our illness burden. Once connected, I bet we will not for certainty be able to measure its neutral or positive impact on population health. Are we betting on a horse that can't run and will a connected system only have marginal impact? It isn't clear at all. Rob MD

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