Update on Health IT and Stimulus Package
On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The law provides $22.8 billion in funding incentives through the Department of Health and Human Services for the adoption, use, maintenance, training, education and research for health information technology (HIT).
The funding will be a great win if the money leverages behavior to use technology to improve quality, reduce errors and wring waste out of our systems of care.
Many of the details of how funds will be allocated are left to the Department to determine in implementing regulations. HHS has put up a web site to track progress in implementing the funds ARRA provided, which can be accessed here www.hhs.gov/recovery.
Grant and loan funding will start flowing this year, but the bulk of the funding ($20.8 billion) flows through the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and will not be available until 2011. Click here to see our short and detailed summaries and a chart that outlines the various sources of funding.
In addition to funding, the HIT Policy Committee and HIT Standards Committee nominations are being mulled over. The deadline for announcing the positions is April 3, else the Secretary gets to name any unfilled slots. This will help ensure the structures are in place to approve standards, implementation specifications and certification criteria as quickly as possible. Because funding is tied to these activities, it is critical the structures are credible and in place to ensure that systems and architectures are built up to ensure the use and exchange of health information that improves care.
Otherwise, what’s the point in doing any of this?