Government // Leadership
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4/2/2012
04:12 PM
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If Court Squashes 'Obamacare,' IT May Suffer: HIMSS

HIMSS executive says if the Supreme Court finds the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, health IT implementation plans may be interrupted.

Telemedicine Tools That Are Transforming Healthcare
Telemedicine Tools That Are Transforming Healthcare
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If the Supreme Court rules that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, a number of health information technology-related provisions of the law will also fall, and that could disrupt health IT implementation plans, according Richard M. Hodge, senior director of Congressional Affairs at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

But despite these concerns, Hodge told InformationWeek Healthcare, "We will find ways to move forward regardless of the court's decision. That may be through the private sector, [it] may be through other proposals and legislation…we'll just have to see how that unfolds."

In a fact sheet released to coincide with last week's oral arguments before the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), HIMSS identified key provisions of the law that are heavily reliant on health IT implementation for their success. Those provisions include health insurance reform, the expansion of Medicaid eligibility, and the creation of health insurance exchanges.

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The ACA includes a number of improvements dependent on or related to health IT capabilities, including electronic health information exchange (HIE); new methods to reimburse expenses based on quality of care, operating rules, and standards; and health IT workforce development, "all of which will be lost [if the ACA falls]," the document states.

The fact sheet also noted that "among the ACA's reimbursement reforms dependent on health information exchange are Health Benefit Exchanges, Accountable Care Organization Demonstration Projects (ACO), extension of the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI), the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), and bonus payments to Medicare Advantage Plans."

While the consensus is that many of the federal health IT initiatives under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, such as the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Programs, will not be affected by the Supreme Court's decision, Hodge pointed out that the ACA further extends the HITECH Act and the way technology will be used in healthcare.

"The ACA built upon the foundation laid by the HITECH Act. The ACA included provisions related to quality reporting, reimbursement based on quality, data collection standards and rules, and health IT workforce development--all of which are important enhancements to the foundation laid by the HITECH Act," Hodge said.

To appreciate how the court's decision might affect telehealth, one needs to understand the role that CMMI, which was established under the ACA, plays in this scenario. CMMI is tasked with encouraging the use of telehealth to improve the care of hospitalized patients through electronic monitoring by specialists located at other facilities. The Center is also developing new models that use remote monitoring systems to coordinate care over time and across settings.

In an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare, Gary Capistrant, American Telemedicine Association's senior director of public policy, said, "The Court's decision will probably have zero bearing on telehealth. It is inconceivable that all of ACA, notably the Medicare provisions such as CMMI, would be repealed and rolled back."

In the meantime, Hodge said that even if the Supreme Court rules the ACA unconstitutional, lawmakers, healthcare delivery organizations, and the private sector recognize that health IT is a driver that can reduce healthcare costs and raise the quality of care, and they are committed to advancing health IT implementation.

The 2012 InformationWeek Healthcare IT Priorities Survey finds that grabbing federal incentive dollars and meeting pay-for-performance mandates are the top issues facing IT execs. Find out more in the new, all-digital Time To Deliver issue of InformationWeek Healthcare. (Free registration required.)

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IT Joe
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IT Joe,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/6/2012 | 3:40:29 PM
re: If Court Squashes 'Obamacare,' IT May Suffer: HIMSS
You know, you are looking at things very one sided. You might want to hear both sides and take a little more caution here buddy. The things others are trying to warn you about are real, try listening a little more to the other side of the debate and you might find there are much better options than ObamaCare. According to your logic, the government should get involved in Grocery stores, because the prices are rising. There are other options that are much better, John Stossel had a great show on his solution to our healthcare problems that would really help get prices down and make things more affordable. Giving the government the keys to my healthcare is just plain stupid and lazy. Please read more opinions on this, there are much better options than getting the government involved. Cheers.
Matt28
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Matt28,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/6/2012 | 1:40:08 PM
re: If Court Squashes 'Obamacare,' IT May Suffer: HIMSS
Everyone should have a health care plan. We all need to have a stake in the game. The problem arises with what's in the 2074 page bill. There is sure to be too much government control in that monster.

Here is a simple plan. The government sets a minimum level of helath care each person must have. If you are happy with the minimum level, purchase a plan that meets the minimum. You want more coverage, pay for more. If you can't afford the minimum, apply for government assistance like everything else. If you try to avoid purchasing a plan the HCRS (Health Care Revenue Service) hunts you down like a dog and makes you pay, just like taxes.
YMOM100
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YMOM100,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/5/2012 | 10:06:53 PM
re: If Court Squashes 'Obamacare,' IT May Suffer: HIMSS
The do away with Medicaid and Medicare as well and eliminate social security, pensions, unemployment insurance, and any public works such as fire stations and police.
Sarcams aside, what is in the legislation is basically a watered down version of the health care system of Canada and Germany. Hardly communist countries!

Again just some right-winger bs without knowing any facts.
YMOM100
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YMOM100,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/5/2012 | 10:04:35 PM
re: If Court Squashes 'Obamacare,' IT May Suffer: HIMSS
I rather have rationed healthcare (which the legislation will NOT do) and than no healthcare.
dmerchant712
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dmerchant712,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/5/2012 | 6:17:17 PM
re: If Court Squashes 'Obamacare,' IT May Suffer: HIMSS
Show how it would increase the cost and how it would ration...wait, it's rationed now. And costs keep increasing now as well.
dmerchant712
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dmerchant712,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/5/2012 | 6:13:09 PM
re: If Court Squashes 'Obamacare,' IT May Suffer: HIMSS
So, we should do away with speed limits, because that's the gov controlling an aspect of our lives? We should do away with mandatory car insurance because that's the gov (state) controlling an aspect of our lives. Food companies shouldn't have to list ingredients since that's the gov controlling an aspect of our lives. Companies should be allowed to bait and switch because otherwise its the gov controlling an aspect of our lives.

A civilization is give and take, balance between total freedom (anarchy) and regulations (government). Doesn't mean gov should have no limits, but no regulation is not usually a good thing either. And you speak of welfare - what about corporate welfare? Like oil companies making record profits getting subsidies (welfare) from the gov?

Plus, folks, look up the definition of socialism. It may not quite mean what you think it means.
ehoffman
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ehoffman,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/4/2012 | 7:36:11 PM
re: If Court Squashes 'Obamacare,' IT May Suffer: HIMSS
I will gladly give up any potential revenue to get rid of this junk legislation which will bury us all in debt, give the government new powers to force the individual to buy products, increase the cost of health care and ration health care for all of us.
grhodes620
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grhodes620,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/4/2012 | 6:26:03 PM
re: If Court Squashes 'Obamacare,' IT May Suffer: HIMSS
ObamaCare must go down in flames. Socilized medicine is the only outcome with his law to take over healthcare and control yet another aspect of our lives. This one is the crown jewel for them if we let it go - think about it, they will have a say in what we eat, how we live, who gets care, who doesn't - no thanks. Its just another step towards looking like a communist country.
In regards to this article, forget about whining about any pork-barrel IT projects you think we will lose. In the end we all lose our freedoms if his draconian law passes with the Supreme court. Thank you again liberal democrats for passing yet another form of welfare.
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