Government Shutdown and Other Governmental Impacts on EMR and Healthcare IT

Yep, the government shutdown talks were in the air again. We heard all about this back in April, we just heard about it again and now they’ve pushed the discussion out until November. I have a feeling that we’re going to continue to hear about it for a while to come. I’m just a passive political sideline observer, but I’d say the chance of a government shutdown is still very little. For all the drama of the media, I have a feeling that the drama won’t actually lead to a shutdown. A last minute deal will be reached…again and again like it did this time and the last.

However, it’s interesting to consider how a government shutdown could affect healthcare IT. In similar situations I’ve seen budgets have usually seen healthcare as an essential function and so they’ve been fine. Although, that’s really talking about the short term possibility of a government shutdown. Who knows what the long term budgets could hold for the government related entities.

Medicare and Medicaid are constantly in the cross hairs of cuts. Most doctors I know talk about how those two government programs pay them the least amount of money. Plus, they talk how many of the cuts to Medicare and Medicaid basically get passed on to them as doctors. I wonder what the super committee that’s required to cut $1.5 trillion of the federal deficit over the next decade will do with Medicare and Medicaid.

We’ve discussed many times the potential impact of the workings in Washington on meaningful use and the EHR incentive money (most think it’s safe).

For those that think what happens in Washington DC won’t really have much impact on healthcare IT, you might want to consider the email I got today announcing the keynote speakers for HIMSS 12 in Las Vegas. Donna Brazile (Democrat) and Dana Perino (Republican) will be on stage for what will no doubt be a spirited debate about the 2012 presidential elections, the political landscape and healthcare reform.

It’s going to be an interesting next couple years to see how changes in government affect healthcare IT and EMR.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, 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,, 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.


  • Gosh, isn’t it ironic how state subsidized programs (i.e., EHR’s) that couldn’t start on their own, can’t continue and collapse when their “incentive money” disappears? Hmm…Lessons learned, and learned, and learned again. Oh, wait, maybe nothing was learned after all…D’oh!

  • Something may be learned…but not much.

    As painful as it may be to admit, once you stick out your hand to the government, you get sucked in like a tractor beam to a specific way of operating.

    When those cuts arrive, it hurts & complaining doesn’t fix it.

    I would think EHR incentive money would be cut before many things.

    Just watch, though, as RAC audits rev up and following that MU audits and HIPAA audits – what a “great revenue stream” for the government.

  • How will EHR/EMR and reform impact the medical billing industry (outsourced medical billing companies)?? I’m hearing optimistic and pessimistic views however the pessimists are bringing up stronger arguments than the optimists. Thoughts? Better yet, would you recommend starting up a small (outsourced) home-based medical billing company at this time?

  • Realist,
    In the talks I’ve had with people, I think that outsourced medical billing companies will be around for a long time to come. I’d say their biggest threat is likely going to be some automated coding solutions that will not necessarily replace them, but definitely change their jobs. We’ll still need them to some extent, but we could end up with less of them to do the same work. One other concern for me is if insurance ever get to real time claims processing. Then, it will really change the industry, but I think that’s far off.

    So, those are my thoughts about outsourced medical billing in general. I’d say the bigger concern for a small home-based billing company is competing with the big boy companies. In fact, many EHR companies are becoming billing companies. Seems like it will be hard to compete with them.

    I hope this helps.

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