There has been some controversy surrounding the recently passed Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare”, with two judges affirming its constitutionality and another rejecting it. Given its legal shakiness and its unpopularity (60% of likely U.S. voters currently favor its repeal), there is a chance that it might be repealed or substantially weakened over the next few years, before its major provisions take effect.
So, what impact would that have on the incentives that have been promised to hospitals and physicians for acquiring and using a certified EHR?
The important thing to understand is that the requirements and funding for Meaningful Use incentives were provided by the HITECH Act, which is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), and are generally unaffected by the Affordable Care Act.
Although ARRA didn’t enjoy bipartisan support (no Republicans in the House and only 3 Republican Senators voted for it), to date no serious attempt has been made to repeal it, and the healthcare provisions were only a part, albeit a significant part ($155 billion out of $787 billion) of the overall bill.
The HITECH dollars, then, are fairly safe. Of course, there are still questions about how many Eligible Providers (EPs) will take the time to apply for HITECH money, and how many of those will actually receive all or most of the $44,000 that each is presumably eligible for (over several years).
For more information about the HITECH act and how EPs can secure their incentive dollars, visit AdvancedMD’s Meaningful Use website. (Don’t forget to try the EHR Incentive Calculators.) You can also check out the article that Shirley Garcia (AdvancedMD EHR Product Manager) and I wrote for the December 2010 issue of Health Management Technology.