HIMSS: Health IT marches on after Affordable Care Act ruling

ACOs, other trends to stay strong in wake of U.S. Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act ruling, says HIMSS.

Health IT initiatives remain a crucial element of reforming the health care industry in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), said Dave Roberts, vice president of government relations for the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS), said in a conference call.

The Supreme Court health ruling upheld the law’s individual mandate requiring health insurance for Americans, and appears to indicate that states cannot lose current Medicaid funding for ACA non-compliance -- although they may lose out on future expansions of Medicaid. But how will the ACA affect health IT in the long term? For starters, accountable care organizations (ACOs) and the health IT software, hardware, and workflow processes (collecting more patient data, applying analytics for population management) are moving ahead at full steam.

“There’s not a more historic piece of legislation [impacting health care] that will be enacted since Medicare and Social Security than this health care reform legislation,” Roberts said, adding that hospitals will be better positioned to invest in health IT infrastructure beyond the basics of meaningful use because the ACA will relieve current financial burdens caused by uninsured patients.

There’s not a more historic piece of legislation that will be enacted since Medicare and Social Security than this health care reform legislation.

Dave Roberts, vice president of government relations, HIMSS

HIMSS, he said, will continue advocacy for a national patient identifying system, a critical missing piece of HIT development in view of the ACA’s push for ACOs and data analytics. And while he pointed out that meaningful use EHR incentives are not part of the ACA, that program’s push for health information exchange in stage 2 becomes much more important to bolster the ACA’s accountable care philosophies. Those technologies should remain priorities for hospital CIOs, as well as electronic funds transfer systems.

Roberts also said he believes the Supreme Court’s upholding of the individual mandate will spur demand for innovative health IT development. Patients, he said, will need more information to control their own costs and improve their own health – which in turn will motivate the providers who serve them to create mechanisms to do that.

Earlier, HIMSS president and CEO Stephen Lieber also weighed in on the Supreme Court ruling, stating in a press release that “HIMSS, like the rest of the country, is relieved that questions about the healthcare reform law have now been settled and the nation can move forward with the essential work of transforming healthcare in America. Health information technology is critical to the ongoing transformation in our nation.”

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