What the 2012 Election Means for Health IT

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The 2012 elections did more than assure the future of the Affordable Care Act. For health IT, it will have a major impact says Dave Roberts, MHA, FHIMSS, vice president of government relations for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

Roberts recently participated in a WebEx call for members and the press that covered the implications of the 2012 elections for health IT. Joined by Tim Storey, senior legislative fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Marilyn Werber Serafini, communications director and health policy advisor for the Alliance for Health Reform, the trio drew the following conclusions:

1. High turnover rate in local elections means many state legislators may be dangerously unfamiliar with health IT. Because of redistricting in large areas of the country, more incumbents than usual were voted out explained Storey. “It is going to take a big education effort on your part to get health IT on their agenda,” he warned.

2. The increasingly partisan nature of politics coming out of the election could be a threat if health IT becomes identified with any one party. “Health IT must remain a bipartisan issue,” Roberts cautioned. He noted that HIMSS worked hard to ensure a health IT plank was part of both presidential candidates platforms.

3. At the national level, the current Congressional leadership retaining power and the reelection of the president offers stability that allows doctors and hospitals to move forward with implementation of EHR systems.

4. However, lack of leadership change also means that the big problems before the election, like the looming fiscal cliff, remain just as stubborn. While the automatic across-the-board budget cuts that will begin January 1 unless Congress acts cannot cut into current meaningful use incentive payments, future payments could be at risk. “We are very nervous about the fiscal cliff,” Roberts noted.