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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Health Train /stimulus

iHealthBeat reports today;


"Today in Denver, President Obama is scheduled to sign a $787 billion economic stimulus package that includes $19 billion for health IT that the House and Senate approved Friday, Healthcare IT News reports (Healthcare IT News, 2/17).

The House passed the stimulus package by a 246-183 margin with no Republican support, and the Senate approved the package by a 60-38 margin with the support of three Republicans (Hitt/Weisman, Wall Street Journal, 2/14).

Health IT Provisions

The legislation would:

  • Provide $2 billion to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, in part to support regional health information exchanges and establish regional extension centers;

  • Require ONC to appoint a chief privacy officer;
  • Strengthen HIPAA medical privacy rules;
  • Establish health IT policy and standards committees as federal advisory committees;
  • Require insurers and health care providers that participate in Medicare and Medicaid to use health IT systems that comply with national standards;
  • Tap the National Institute of Standards and Technology to test health IT standards;
  • Restrict the sale of information included in health records;
  • Permit state attorneys general to sue individuals to enforce HIPAA medical privacy and security rules (Ferris, Government Health IT, 2/13); and
  • Require vendors of electronic health records to alert individuals and the Federal Trade Commission of data breaches (Health Data Management, 2/17).
  • Prospects for Health IT Firms

    In addition, several newspapers published articles recently examining expected financial benefits to health IT firms.  Headlines and links are provided below.

The bill also would provide health IT funds for the Social Security Administration, Indian Health Service, community health centers, and medical schools and other organizations.

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The legislation aims to make electronic health records available to all U.S. residents by 2014 but would not require individuals to use EHRs (Government Health IT, 2/13).


The Congressional Budget Office projects that health IT provisions in the stimulus package will result in 90% of doctors and 70% of hospitals using certified EHR systems by 2019 (Health Data Management, 2/13).

Health care experts and economists expect the health IT provisions to create jobs in IT and other related fields, reduce health care costs and improve efficiency in the health care system.

However, some Republican lawmakers and other conservatives criticized the bill's health IT provisions, arguing that the move was part of an effort by the Obama administration to rework the health care system with minimal public debate (Douglas, McClatchy/Kansas City Star, 2/13).

"No Batteries Required"

Sunday, February 15, 2009

More Bailout Backwash

Move over Dr Leavitt!! Mark Leavitt has resurfaced rapidly after exiting stage left as the Obama administration takes over the center of government. He is now the Chair of the CCHIT, the body that certifies EMRs and information systems for interoperability. He and John Hamlaka as well as John Tooker, MD the head of the American College of Physicians write today in The Health Care blog about the progress of Health IT. It is an excellent read and accurately describes the present state of the ‘art’ and the forecasts and wishful thinking for the future.

Their forecast is for better times for health IT. Much of this results from the recent economic chaos and misery stimulating our central government to hand out dollars guised as stimulants. Health IT needs will be included in the framework of the overall program(s).

From failure comes success. Strange bedfellow….bank failure, crashing credit markets and a prediction and/or promise for a  booming health IT. Go figure! When we were ‘relatively rich’ there was nada for health IT. Five years or more ago ONCHIT was formed and RHIOs were encouraged, with mostly negative progress save for a few successful ones. Much of the work was done by volunteers, champions of IT, and others.

Mysterious Disappearance

For those of you who read my blog, my absence was due to technical problems, which have been fixed for the time being. I am awaiting my backup files to arrive.

Writing a daily blog has it's short comings, when events change hour to hour amongst the pundits and political activists.

Daschle's demise was probably devastating to Tom, since he had been an ardent supporter of Obama in his quest for the Presidency.  A " suitable "  replacement will be found quickly.

Daschle did have the unique perspective of political expediency and healthcare knowledge to guide healthcare policy through the maze of the legislative process.    This is a real set back in terms of 'trust' and the workings of the congress.  The new secretary of HHS will have to start at the gate.