Republican Candidates Healthcare Stances

Dr. James Coffin, VP of Healthcare and Life Sciences at Dell, has a post up on the Dell Healthcare Community site that looks at the stances of the various Republican candidates for the US Presidential nomination. It’s an interesting read if you haven’t been following the republican candidates very much.

What the article doesn’t address is these candidates stance on the HITECH Act. The key here is to realize that the HITECH act isn’t part of the Affordable Care Act which every GOP candidate is saying they will repeal if they become President. So, where does that really leave the HITECH Act should a republican president be elected?

The problem is that no one really knows. Those who argue that the HITECH Act is safe often lean on the ideas that EMR and EHR has always had bipartisan support. Many often mention that the push for adoption of EHR software was started by a republican president, George W. Bush. I actually agree that both sides of the aisle want to have widespread adoption of EHR. We could certainly argue the benefits or detriments of EHR adoption, but for a relatively uninformed senate, house and president when it comes to EHR, they’re going to easily grab on to the idea that technology can improve healthcare. We may agree or disagree with this point, but I think we’d be hard pressed to find a senator that thinks we shouldn’t have EHR technology in healthcare.

The problem with the above discussion has to do with the way that EHR is being paid for. Again, this isn’t about whether the idea of paying doctors to use EHR software is right or wrong, good or bad. This is more about the political stance of the republicans and how they want government to spend money. It seems very clear to me that Republicans are going to keep sitting on their no spending/cut spending soap box. If a republican becomes President, we’re likely to see widespread cuts. Could HITECH money be a casualty of those cuts? Absolutely. Will they be a casualty? Can anyone predict what Washington will really do?

Should doctors and practices then be afraid of going after the EHR stimulus money? Well, I’ve been advising doctors and practices for the last couple years to not implement an EHR in order to get the government hand out. Those that are doing EHR for “free” government money are going to be disappointed. Not only because the money could be cut, but because sooner or later that money will be gone. So, if you’ve followed my advice, then the loss of the EHR stimulus money will be unfortunate but not too terrible.

On the other hand, those people who only did EHR because the government was waving the carrot and the stick are likely going to be quite disappointed. Particularly if the practice focused on the governments EHR requirements instead of their own individual practice needs when it comes to an EHR. Sadly, I believe there are many clinics in this boat.

I’m sure there are other Washington DC insider workings that are in play as well. Hopefully many of you will share some of what you know in the comments.

Personally, I’m still fairly confident that the EHR stimulus money will play itself out. I’ll be a little surprised if indeed it does get cut. I think republicans will have larger fish to fry. However, there’s certainly that possibility, so doctors should take this into account when they’re selecting and implementing an EHR.

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.

4 Comments

  • The notion of a caregiver, provider or practice adopting electronic health or medical records primarily to benefit from the one-time financial incentive created by the Stimulus Act is an important one for some, no one know how many, as the above has observed.
    That said, for the prudent non-profit EMR-EHT adopter (member of or affiliated with a nationwide, not-for-profit health service (‘NHS”)), the combined incentives, public and private (NHS), work to the larger advantage of facilitating the opportunity to see the totality of HIT cost, including updating, hardware and support services removed, as negative cost items, from that provider’s income statement.
    In fact, with related “revenue sharing”, such a provider would be able to turn those former cost items from expenses to a new, and fairly significant revenue streams. i.e., new earnings it might be added, could facilitate stronger provider balance sheets, including much needed operating and capital reserves: A notable weakness for non-profit healthcare institutions that makes them vulnerable and appetizing targets for private-equity and for-profit healthcare conglomerates…
    Question becomes, however, which non-profit entities will grasp the opportunity and which will see a given-up-for-dead non-profit institution across town, suddenly acquired and being brought to renewed and competitive life before their very eyes as affiliate, subsidiary or member NHS entity.

  • John, great post. It seems many people are overreacting to this possibility. If a republican president does get elected I still don’t see this funding ending unless republicans also retake the Senate with a 60+ filibuster proof majority. Highly unlikely, but who knows? A lot can happen between now and then.

  • Dr. Smith: Whether it’s an overreaction or not remains to be seen but it does not take a rocket scientist to appreciate that with 23 Senate Democrats up for grabs in the 2012 election cycle, with the sitting President losing the election, the Senate turning over is, and in a big way, a given.

  • L. Napoleon Cooper,
    I’m ok with a practice considering the EHR stimulus as part of their EHR adoption. There’s no reason not to take the money since particularly in stage 1, it’s not all that difficult to do. My caution is more for those people who only do it for the money. They’re going to implement systems that they hate to use and could potentially kill their practice. By focusing on more than just the stimulus money, they’ll be in a much better position post government handout.

    Dr. Smith,
    L. Napoleon Cooper makes a good point. I agree it’s still too early to really know how it’s all going to play out. However, for some reason I’m not all that concerned that it will be cut. It’s possible, but I believe still unlikely.

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