EMR Stimulus – Is it Hanging by a Thread?

The Supreme Court verdict on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) came as a relief for most. Stephen Lieber, CEO and president of HIMSS expressed a similar sentiment, citing that the healthcare community would be able move forward as the air on the subject has now cleared. The delay in the decision along with surging support from the republicans had casted a shroud on the health community. While there was support for ACA, most feared the potential impact of a negative ruling.

The time leading up to the decision had few wondering whether this could have an effect on the health IT sector. Some had suggested that changes in policy could severely jeopardize the progression of health IT and EMRs while the republicans have already expressed their concerns regarding the spending on health reform.

Health IT experts believe that while the current political stances on healthcare reform may differ, both parties will continue to endorse EMR adoption along with the developments in health IT. Dave Robert, Vice President of HIMSS says, “We anticipate that the benefits of health IT will continue to receive bipartisan support as our nation establishes the infrastructure necessary for improving patient care and take strides to enhance the cost effectiveness of care delivery in the U.S.”

Policy makers are already pushing for more accountability. In lieu of the recent development in regards to Accountable Care Organizations and evidence based practice methods, it is clear where the general focus lies. With the annual healthcare spending surpassing the $2 trillion mark, the government must adopt new and more efficient ways that not only help in curbing the current cost levels but ensure better quality of care.

“The healthcare reform budget battle is likely to persist well into the new legislation, assuming that the republicans do come into power. What budget cuts are expected and who would be affected, is a wait and see game for now.” says an independent compliance consultant.

There is some unease regarding the stance of a new government on the EMR stimulus. Current funding has supported the development of regional extension centers (RECs), health IT education and the beacon community program, etc. Most of these programs have already been allocated the required resources, where as the Medicare and Medicaid incentives for 2017 and later have been not rolled out as of yet. Incentive funding is definitely at risk and while it has been a key in EMR adoption, it is not safe from budget cuts. Some experts expect a change in payment schedule and criteria, suggesting interoperability is likely to take the center stage for incentive payments as the states looks to move towards connected care.


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