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IT decisions hang on Supreme Court healthcare ruling

It seems like healthcare providers are always faced with uncertainty. That uncertainly has reached a tipping point this week as the Supreme Court hears arguments over the constitutionality of healthcare reform's mandate for U.S residents to purchase coverage. How does all this uncertainty impact healthcare providers' IT plans? That depends.

Most of the big government mandates that healthcare providers are struggling with right now from an IT perspective aren't directly linked to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law in 2010. In fact, the biggest government-related IT burdens on healthcare providers come from other legislation: the HITECH Act's program that encourages the adoption and Meaningful Use of health IT systems, including electronic medical records. For now, financial incentives are being awarded to healthcare providers who comply with MU, but financial penalties will begin kicking in for those who don't adhere after 2014.

More burdensome than the Meaningful Use programs, however, is the mandate for ICD-10 conversion, which greatly expands the number of diagnostic and in-patient procedures that billing, clinical, and other systems use. As most health professionals know by now, the deadline for ICD-10 is currently in limbo. While the ICD-10 conversion deadline had been set for Oct. 1, 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced last month that it will extend the deadline, but the new date hasn't been set yet.

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