I’ve been having a number of discussions online and through email with people about the future of the EHR incentive money. A number of people are quite concerned with the government funding for the EHR incentive money. You may remember that I posted about this before on multiple occasions and had some really interesting discussion.
Here’s a summary of some of the points that I’ve heard people making when it comes to the EHR incentive money being taken away:
1-There is a crucial difference between the two steps required for Congressional funding, a-authorization and b-appropriations. Congress can authorize, but cannot appropriate for 5 yrs. This applies to the EHR stimulus money. Thus the 5 year EHR payment has been authorized, but no EHR funds have been, nor can they be, appropriated for 5 years, right?
2-There is $18k this year for doctor Medicare EHR. But not the remaining $26k over 5 years has not been apropriated (same applies to hospitals funds).
3-The budget deficit and debt ceiling suggest Congress will be looking now and in the future for cutting every dime they can,
and thus the $20B or so for EHR could be part of the cut. Thus there may be reduced EHR funds, or none, appropriated by Congress after this year.
I still believe in my gut that the EHR incentive money is going to be safe and still around going forward. There’s little benefit to cutting a mere $20 billion from a program that is generally bi-partisan. Plus, no one in congress really knows the potential good or bad impacts of the HITECH act on EHR and healthcare IT. However, it’s really easy for them to quickly assume that more technology in healthcare is good and worth funding (whether the way they’re doing it is good or not…a subject for a different post).
It’s certainly not beyond the realm of possibilities that the government could make some sweeping cuts and the EHR incentive money is a casualty of those sweeping no holds bars type cuts. Point being that I don’t think there are any people in congress that are passionately for it or passionately against it. So, I think that means that it will likely either get carried forward on a whim or cast aside on a whim.
How’s that for a concrete answer? Are there points that I’m missing? Are we misunderstanding the HITECH funding process? Feel free to chime in with any knowledge you might have of the government process.