Health IT: Time To Act?
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Marilyn Werber Serafini asks: "Barack Obama and key members of Congress say they want to jumpstart efforts on health information technology by including it in the stimulus package. The idea is to bypass budget rules that would make it harder to spend the money later...What do you see as the pros or cons of including $10 billion a year for health information technology in the stimulus package? Are there any reasons to be cautious about moving forward with this initiative?"
James Gelfand answers (in part):
Across the board, everyone seems to agree that investing in HIT is a great idea. We can make our health care system more affordable while simultaneously increasing quality and patient safety. What's not to like? As usual, the devil is in the details. Congress tried to pass HIT legislation in the 110th Congress, but many provisions were controversial, and there were serious disagreements between the House and Senate. Worse, in the 109th Congress, HIT legislation was debated ad nauseum, and eventually passed in both the House and the Senate... but the two bills were never reconciled, so no final law was enacted.
Does this sound like an issue that we should jam through Congress in a stimulus package that is being rushed through and not debated at great length?...Do we really want to pass a HIT bill that might scare health care providers away from HIT? And isn't this obviously an issue that is important enough to spend some time working through until we have a compromise everyone can support?