I was recently asked if the HITECH Act EHR incentive program will be effected by the 2012 election. Well the move to electronic medical records was mandated by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health / HITECH Act of 2009 as part of the Stimulus Bill.
President George W Bush had a vision of electronic medical records in 2004. Not much movement toward electronic health record adoption occurred then. Health care providers started to take EMR software seriously with the Stimulus Bill / HITECH Act, which provided funding.
What kind of Electronic Medical Records funding did the HITECH Act provide?
- Funding for the EHR Incentive Program to make payments direct to physicians and hospitals who meet meaningful use CMS (Center for Medicare Medicaid Services) criteria.
- Funding for workforce development to develop healthcare and IT savvy resources to assist with the transition to electronic medical records software.
- Funding for Regional Extension Centers to provide outreach and education on the HITECH Act and to assist primary care physicians with electronic health record adoption.
What about the Health Care Reform Bill?
The goal of the Health Care Reform Act or
Since ACA was promoted and signed by President Barack Obama, it is un-affectionately called, Obamacare by opponents. Republicans want to repeal Obamacare. Provisions of ACA have gone under scrutiny by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Clearly, Obmacare is a political issue. Hence, the upcoming elections will affect the fate of Health Care Reform bill.
Is HITECH Act funding at risk?
No. The HITECH Act is separate and distinct bill from ACA. HITECH Act funding is fixed. The only risk for health care providers is that the funds may run out. If you snooze, you lose!
Some Regional Extension Centers have used up all their grant funding. If physicians wait too long to get started with electronic medical records and attest to meaningful use, they may find there are no more incentive payments available.
What about Meaningful Use?
Hospitals and physicians must meet 24 or 25 CMS meaningful use criteria in order to qualify for EHR Incentive program payments. Health care providers began attesting to meaningful use stage 1 criteria in 2011. But meaningful use stage 2 is coming.
Will election influence meaningful use stage 2 release date?
Here at SearchHealthIT, we’re creating an office pool for when the final meaningful use stage 2 rule will drop.
National HIT policy leader and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CIO John Halamka, MD says it’s on track for August delivery. Vendor co-op Premier Healthcare Alliance affirmed its support for such a timetable in comments to CMS.
But that could be just wishful thinking during this presidential election season. Whether the election’s close or not – and why wouldn’t it be, considering the last three have been – will President Obama’s administration want to risk further attack on his health care policies on the campaign trail? Every move either candidate makes is deeply scrutinized by his foes, leading to silly gestures such as a judge forcing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to affirm that the administration recognizes the Supreme Court’s authority. While that particular incident didn’t involve meaningful use regulations, it was part of the legal challenge to Obama’s health reform law.
One would think that shenanigans like these would make any candidate – liberal, conservative or moderate – think twice about introducing new regulations into the debate stream.
My guess as to when meaningful use stage 2 will arrive? I’m torn. If Obama’s re-elected, I’d imagine the final rule will arrive sometime between Election Day and Thanksgiving. If he isn’t? Maybe never.
The president put pending regulations on hold for 60 days when he first took office, subjecting them to administrative review, and last year established new policies for vetting regulations. If Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, wins, you’d have to figure he’d put a similar freeze on pending regs.
Can you imagine a rookie president inserting himself into a politicized health IT debate featuring associations squared off against patient advocates like Regina Holliday picketing the American Hospital Association annual meeting? It’s difficult enough for us to follow, and we have seen most every episode of this reality show since the HITECH Act was enacted.
Forced to choose a date for the release of the final meaningful use stage 2 rule – and the office pool’s rules dictate that players must choose a single date – I’ll take Nov. 16. After all, documents seem to drop on Fridays a lot, and I’m 60-40 sure (subject to change, day by day, between now and November) Obama will be re-elected. But I’m not a handicapper for a living, so if you’re really interested in betting, call your local bookie to find out what the wiseguys are saying.
I hope Halamka’s prediction of August delivery turns out to be right, and this blog post’s a bunch of conjecture. But thinking about how the proposed rule finally saw the light of day, it’s safe to say that nothing ever goes as planned. A hell of a notion, as Styx once put it.
Source article at “Will election influence meaningful use stage 2 release date?“
The HITECH Act EHR Incentive Program is in tact. To get the government funding, health care providers must meet meaningful use criteria, regardless of the meaningful use stage.
Go forward with electronic medical records and HITECH Act compliance!
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