07 May Critical access to IT
Because Medicare incentives under the federal stimulus law vary by type of hospital, rurals expect to see fewer dollars for health IT.
Soon after Congress allocated upward of $19 billion in health information technology funding as part of the economic recovery package, a commentary from the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative of 35 free-standing facilities said that the law would leave rural hospitals to make “the best of a bad situation.”
That’s because, according to the report, the differences in Medicare incentives between prospective payment system hospitals and critical-access hospitals are “dramatic,” and the Congressional Budget Office estimates the incentives will result in only half of all critical-access hospitals reaching “meaningful user” status by 2019.
Other healthcare leaders, however, say the legislation’s structure is fair, and that this funding is only a down payment from the federal government for health IT, with additional funds to come later. According to the CBO, total IT funding via the stimulus pipeline could eventually top $34 billion.
Meanwhile, the rural health community continues to improve its IT capabilities—and, in some cases, with financial help from other federal funding sources.
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