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Obama wins — now what?

November 19, 2008
by kate
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After an election that gripped the nation (and, let’s face it, the world) and inspired record-breaking numbers at the polls in some areas, Senator Barack Obama is set to take the reigns as Commander-in-Chief in January. While there are certainly several issues on his agenda — the wars, the economy, healthcare and the auto industry, to name a few — one that’s certainly generating a lot of discussion within the healthcare IT community is the fate of the existing initiatives and organizations focused on the adoption of technologies in the hospital setting.

The big question on many of our minds is: what changes are we going to see with the new administration?

One thing that probably won’t change is the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology. According to a statement made last week, CCHIT Chairman Mark Leavitt, M.D., says he does not expect the Commission to be “bypassed or thrown aside.”

There is less certainty, however, regarding the American Health Information Community’s successor group (AHIC 2.0). Leavitt has expressed some concern that the progress that has been made could stall under the new administration.

It’s understandable why he might have some apprehension; after all, he’s seen all that CCHIT was able to accomplish with the leeway it was given under the current regime. In two years, the Commission has certified 150 EHR products, which accounts for 50 percent of all EHR vendors and 75 percent of the market. And that certification is critical; the executives from EHR companies that I’ve spoken with at conferences like TEPR and MGMA view certification in the latest standards as something that gives them a competitive edge. As several different executives have told me, receiving certification can separate the contenders from the pretenders in the EHR market, in addition to instilling confidence in users (and better yet, potential users).

AHIC 2.0 also has a key purpose, as it was initiated back in the summer to continue the standards work started by its predecessor (which was created in 2005 to provide recommendations to HHS on how to accelerate the development and adoption of health IT). AHIC 2.0, however, is an independent public-private partnership, and Leavitt fears that if Congress abandons the public-private model in favor of legislating health IT standards, the process will suffer.

It’s one thing that he says should not change. Let’s hope the lawmakers heed to his advice.

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Comments

Hi Joe,
Thanks for your reply. I'll definitely check out the WSJ article and the blogs.

Healthcare reform is an extremely daunting task, and I can understand the concerns some people have that it will be relegated to the backburner behind the economy and wars. But unlike in years past, reform seems to have much more support (from both parties) this time around, and thus (I hope) stands a better chance.

I think it's very encouraging that Senators Baucus and Kennedy are planning to push the issue as soon as Obama is sworn in. And I think the appointment of Daschle is also a good sign.

It's going to be very interesting to see what happens.

Kate,
In the spirit of your post, I'd like to call attention to a WSJ 11/20/2008 article by Laura Meckler titled "This Time Around, Health-Care Revamp Has Wings." Laura takes a similar approach as you: i.e. what's different.

-Tom Daschle appointment as secretary of HHS
-New stance on insurance reform by that industry
-Mandate for affordability and universal coverage
-Early positioning of Kennedy and Baucus, consistent with Obama's proposal

The article is realistic and balanced. In the words of our newest blogger, Drex, and I'm paraphrasing: 'this stuff is incredibly complex, but there's plenty of room for large and small improvements, and to have some fun.' I agree, and so does this fact-based article about the politics going on today.

Aside:  Sometimes half the value or more is in the blogs attached to the articles.  In this case, by 9 am on the day of publication, there are 34 posts.  "Kovner" and follow up are interesting, as are some of the other aspects of the conversation.  For those who haven't discovered it yet, Wikipedia also has discussions with most articles, where opinions and perspectives are offered for consideration.

Kate and Joe very good discussions here. I can't help thinking that it is rather pessimistic that CCHIT Chairman, Mark Leavitt would think that the new administration and the president-elect administration would abandon the needed healthcare reforms and the public-private model in favor of legislating health IT standards. http://change.gov/agenda/health_care_agenda/

It is very obvious that the new president-elect will be facing a difficult economic situation that could significantly impede healthcare reform initiatives and many other agendas such as energy. Many expensive government programs will be hard to pass if tax receipts continue to decline and corporate earnings still heading for rock bottom.

Even with Democratic control of Congress, it is likely that the president-elect and his administration will have difficulties getting many policies and agendas passed during 2009, healthcare will be no difference - but will not be put on the back burner, may a slow start, until we have a strong boost to the U.S. economy. Many initiatives that address Healthcare provisions, which require significant spending or tax incentives, might have to wait until the economy starts to recover, but the "change will come!
http://change.gov/agenda/health_care_agenda/

kate

Kate Huvane, Associate Editor of...