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Live: The upcoming election looms over MGMA

October 20, 2008
by kate
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It’s everywhere you turn… Obama! McCain! Biden! Palin! There’s no escaping election talk, even at a healthcare conference — or maybe, especially at a healthcare conference.

Throughout the two days of meetings I’ve held with vendors and industry experts at MGMA, a common thread has emerged when I ask about trends they expect to see in the near future. The response I keep hearing goes something like this: “that depends on what happens next month.”

It’s interesting because health IT is, at its core, a bipartisan issue. After all, who wouldn’t be in favor of leveraging information technology to improve the quality of cost of patient care? It’s on par with supporting a cleaner environment. Who doesn’t? Where it gets tricky, however, is in the details. When it comes to the specifics of how much money should be spent and how exactly those funds should be allocated in order to achieve the agreed-upon end goals, disparity certainly exists between the two parties.

This is the basic breakdown:

· Obama’s plan: Spend $50 billion over the next five years to foster widespread adoption of standards-based electronic health IT

· McCain’s plan: Support the implementation of HIT systems to allow physicians to practice electronically across state lines and deliver care less expensively (by utilizing remote patient monitoring and telehealth)

Clearly, that still leaves many issues up in the air. The EMR vendors I’ve spoken to are curious as to when funding programs will actually kick in and how organizations CCHIT and HITSP may be affected. They’re concerned that the progress made by HITSP in terms of standards harmonization will suffer, some fear that CCHIT could lose momentum with a new administration, and many are curious as to how the Stark relaxation will be impacted.

But most of all, industry leaders are hoping that no matter who is sworn in the White House in January, health IT adoption will be able to break the mold and remain a true bipartisan effort.

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