Congress is in the process of considering an $825 billion
stimulus package, the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.” Among many
provisions, the package would make a $1.1 billion investment in comparative
effectiveness research. We hope the focus will be around actual patient value
and science, rather than just cost effectiveness.
The stimulus package also would invest $20 billion in health IT.
Of that amount, $2 billion would go to infrastructure and standards
development, and the remainder would be used as incentive dollars for providers
who adopt health IT. We’d like to see a good
deal of that money going for incentive-based increases in payment for those who
voluntarily report on meaningful measures to a workable and meaningful PQRI
version 2.0 (the physician reporting program in CMS). It would be good to see
the current 2 percent puny bonus go up to at least 6 or 7 percent and perhaps
10 percent for those who additionally report electronically. That would be a
legit health IT adoption incentive.
Interestingly, all of Obama’s cabinet appointees are sailing through OTHER THAN
Sen. Tom Daschle. He is a good man, but the Senate apparently is distressed
over something in his tax records. There’s a frustrating silence about it, and
a rumor that this may take a few weeks or more to resolve. I hope not, because
without him centrally working for us as a champion, our part of the stimulus
could be threatened.
More coverage of the health IT portion of the stimulus bill is available at EMR and HIPAA. Also, The Health Care Blog hosted a great discussion on "The Truth about Health IT Standards" on Friday.