Tag: Bipartisan Policy Center

The Political Economy of Health Information Technology

Healthcare reform is arguably the hot-button political issue of our time. And with the Supreme Court locked and loaded to decide the fate of the Affordable Care Act this summer, it’s a safe bet the controversial two-year-old legislation will have a huge impact on the 2012 election and beyond.

But what about health IT? If “Obamacare” has been a lightning rod, sparking historically nasty partisan bickering – Congress vs. President Obama, Republicans vs. Democrats, Fox News vs. MSNBC, the Tea Party vs. – Washington’s efforts to spur healthcare information technology have enjoyed much broader support, on both sides of the aisle.

Just last week, a Washington think tank whose healthcare wing is led by two erstwhile rival Senate Majority Leaders put its weight behind smarter and more widespread use of technology and data exchange in healthcare organizations nationwide.

“To deliver high-quality, cost-effective care, a physician or hospital needs good information,” said former senator Bill Frist, MD, upon the release of a report, on Jan. 27, from the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Task Force on Delivery System Reform and Health IT. “Data about patients has to flow across primary care physicians, hospitals, labs, and anywhere that patients receive care.”

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Thinking About the Bipartisan Policy Center Report on Health IT

There are few issue areas within the Beltway of Washington, DC, that have enjoyed more support across the political aisle than health care information technology. In 2004, George Bush asserted that every American would/should have an electronic medical record by 2014. Since then, Democrats and Republicans alike have supported the broad concept of wiring the U.S. health information infrastructure.

With the injection of ARRA stimulus funds earmarked in the HITECH Act to promote health providers’ adoption of electronic health records, we’re now on the road to Americans getting access to their health information electronically. It won’t be all or even most U.S. health citizens by 2014, but it will millions.

Just how solid is political support for health IT these days, then? An important report, Transforming Health Care: The Role of Health IT, from the Bipartisan Policy Center Task Froce on Delivery System Reform and Health IT published in January 2012, talks about the gaps and obstacles to achieving an interoperable, accessible health IT infrastructure.

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