Will HITECH Act money be there tomorrow?

HITECH Act Funding

It is a great question with no sure answer. Times are tough as they say. Everything is “on the table” when it comes to the government and its budget and debt. If it is about health care you bet it won’t be safe. But the question of HITECH Act funding does seem to bring out a kumbaya you don’t see much in Washington these days. While at the MGMA conference, I asked Farzad Mostashari the question. Carol caught up with former Gov. Ernie Fletcher on the exhibit floor and asked him the question as well. Here is what they had to say.

ONC Mostashari believes there is “genuine” bipartisan support for health IT in the congress today. “If we are going to have lower health care costs we have to have better information, no matter what.” He agrees these are tough times especially when discussing the budget and there “are no guarantees”. And his but is, “the more value they see and we demonstrate as a health IT community as a whole the better chance they will continue their financial commitment.”

Dr. Ernie Fletcher, the former Governor of Kentucky is now the founder and CEO of Alton Healthcare. Carol met him in their booth at the conference. You can’t get better insight to a State’s Medicaid challenges than a Governor! But what about the HITECH Act money? Here is his answer.

“Several months ago I was asked along with Deval Patrick of Massachusetts to testify in front of the senate finance committee regarding health care expenditures, specifically Medicaid expenditures in states. We had done a lot of Medicaid reform in Kentucky which is why they were interested.

What I’ve ascertained and have communicated with a number of senators involved in health care on this is that regardless of whether you’re republican or democrat there is going to be a be a continued push for paying for wellness, prevention disease management, and keeping people out of the hospital rather than just paying for illness treatment. So that’s going to be a big push.

To affect that IT is an essential part because you have to be able to connect and coordinate care. So the push to have health IT become a greater part of managed health care is going to continue. The expenditures for HITECH may be reduced slightly but that total expenditure as part of health care is really inconsequential to the whole of the national debt and yet the savings realized with IT and EHR implementations can be tremendous.”

So are we doing enough for the money to be there tomorrow?