17 Feb $19.2b for Health IT in economic stimulus
Today President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, H.R. 1. The legislation provides $19.2 billion for health IT to help stimulate the economy, increase investment in health IT, build a strong IT infrastructure for healthcare, and expand job growth. A HIMSS summary and analysis can be accessed online.
In brief, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is intended to achieve widespread adoption of health IT and enable electronic exchange of health information. The Act offers incentives through Medicare and Medicaid to reward providers for demonstrating the “meaningful use” of certified EHR technologies. The Medicare incentives for eligible professionals become available beginning 2011 and for eligible hospitals FY11 and are available only to those providers that demonstrate use of certified EHR technology as defined by the Act. Beginning in 2015 (eligible professionals) and FY15 (eligible hospitals) the incentives end, and eligible professionals and hospitals who are not “meaningful users” of EHR technologies will begin to see a reduction in their applicable Medicare percentage increase.
The legislation provides a tremendous amount of funding to assist providers and states in adopting and utilizing health IT. Effective January 1, 2010, the Act makes available grants to states and Indian tribes to establish “Loan Funds” to help providers conduct such activities as purchasing certified EHR technology and training personnel. Effective FY11, grants will be available to states or state-designated entities to carry out activities that are aligned with goals such as achieving the nationwide exchange of health information and assisting patients with using health IT.
The Act also codifies the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), which, until today, has been operating through an Executive Order signed by President Bush in 2004. The legislation includes $2 billion for the ONC.
As to how the legislation addresses the role of the National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC), the legislation grants the Secretary of Health & Human Services with the authority to recognize the NeHC as either the HIT Policy Committee or the HIT Standards Committee, if the NeHC wishes to modify its charter to be consistent with the requirements of a voluntary consensus standards body. The HIT Policy and the HIT Standards Committee are two federal advisory committees established in the Act.
We’d like to ascertain your initial impressions of the Act. Our current Vantage Point 5-question survey offers you an opportunity to chime in on the opportunities and challenges awaiting our industry as we move forward together.
At HIMSS09, we will present a series of education sessions to equip attendees to take effective action on economic stimulus. We’ve arranged for significant interaction between attendees and government officials in town hall meetings and education sessions, and for attendees and exhibitors on the show floor. We are pleased to report that total attendance is up 9% over this period in 2008; professional attendee registrations are also 9% over last year.
Over the past few years, HIMSS has advocated for issues such as the establishment of a senior-level health IT position within the administration and for the federal government to leverage programs such as Medicare and Medicaid to drive the widespread adoption and appropriate use of health IT. The Act makes greats strides in getting us closer to our shared goal of the secure, appropriate electronic exchange of health information. We will continue to aid Congress as it develops health IT policy, as well as work with our federal and state agencies as they implement these new measures.
On behalf of HIMSS and the HIMSS Board of Directors, we thank you for your continued support in advocating for an increase in federal support and leadership for health IT. Through your support and leadership in government relations activities, the federal government has recognized the promise that health IT holds for our economy and long-term stability of healthcare in the U.S.