EMR Stimulus Money Secure from Political Changes

I’ve discussed on multiple occasions the possible impacts of the congressional changes on the EMR stimulus money. Justin Barnes on The Health Care Blog recently posted the best reason I’ve seen yet for the EMR stimulus money and meaningful use being safe from being cut, stopped, or otherwise maimed due to some political change. Here’s his description:

Fundamentally it’s important to note that the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, from which the Meaningful Use program and its funding originates within the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, is an entirely different statute than PPACA.

Bipartisan support for the tenets and the spirit of HITECH dates back at least seven years, and it is also noteworthy that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), which administers Meaningful Use, was created by the Bush administration and a Republican Congress.

Politics aside though, the reason that Meaningful Use funds are secure is because they are drawn from the Medicare Trust Funds held by the U.S. Treasury, and are therefore not subject to annual Congressional budget appropriations or oversight.

From what I’ve read, the funding is really the only tool that the republicans have to damage the various democratic legislation that they don’t like. Since the meaningful use funds are part of the Medicare Trust Funds and not subject to the congressional budget, I think that clearly defines why the EMR stimulus money is safe.

So, you can all go out and safely buy your certified EHR and start showing meaningful use of your favorite EHR software.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

5 Comments

  • I don’t buy his last point. True MU performance will be paid by CMS but funding is not from the subscriber paid trust fund … funds are administered by ONC and came from ARRA.

    GOP has targeted unspent ARRA funds far more agressively than getting ACA repealed.

    I think Justin Barnes is whistling past the graveyard.

    I think its going to be very disappointing when we find so very few EPs receive ARRA MU incentive payments though. At the end of the day hospitals will end up getting far more than their ‘share’ of the $18+ billion than originally planned.

  • “Justin Barnes is vice president of marketing, corporate development and government affairs for Greenway Medical Technologies, Inc”
    ___

    A “tout” with investors to assuage?

  • Justin Barnes and Don are both partially wrong. The program is administered by CMS, not ONC- so ONC’s birth under the Republicans is irrelevant. The funds are appropriated to CMS. They are not part of the Medicare trust fund. The EHR Incentive Program is both Medicaid and Medicare, remember? The funds are considered mandatory, though, not discretionary and do not need annual approprations (either the 100% federal incentive funds or the 90% matching administrative funds for State Medicaid agencies).

    The bipartisan support for HIT is true though and ACA is the bigger target…

  • JPK,
    Thanks for the clarification.

    Either way, the key is that the funds are pretty much safe from the whims of congressional budgets that will certainly take cuts at other parts of the healthcare reform.

  • @John … “pretty much safe” only means that it looks like that is the case… for now … maybe.

    As I learned long ago unless a program was controlled by Newton’s First or Second Law … it could be changed.

    In any case whether the funds are there or not may be mute if few qualify for MU incentive payments. If only 17,000 EPs have signed up with RECs nationwide as of Oct time frame versus the 100,000 projected by ONC … that tells me that not as much is going to be going out to EPs to incentivize EHRs than what was planned.

    IMO

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