Business Group Pushes Provisions on Health Care Costs in Stimulus
On Monday, the National Business Group on Health asked members of Congress and the transition team of President-elect Barack Obama for funds for comparative effectiveness research, health care information technology, and subsidies for COBRA in an economic stimulus package, CQ HealthBeat reports (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 1/12).
At a briefing on Monday, NBGH President Helen Darling said that the stimulus package should include $1 billion for comparative effectiveness research, which would help physicians to determine the most effective treatments for patients based on scientific evidence (Wangsness, "Political Intelligence," Boston Globe, 1/12).
The Agency for HealthCare Research and Quality could oversee the research, Darling said.
Darling also said that the stimulus package should include an investment in health care IT, despite the current lack of a broad set of interoperability standards. She said, "Health IT is an area where there are a lot of different ways to spend money and still be effective" (CQ HealthBeat, 1/12).
Health Care IT Prospects
The inclusion of an investment in health care IT in the economic stimulus package could lead to wider adoption of electronic health records, according to some industry experts, the AP/Boston Globe reports (Perrone, AP/Boston Globe, 1/12).
Some experts say that such an investment could provide physicians with financial incentives to adopt EHRs, electronic prescribing and other forms of health care IT, while others have raised concerns about the interoperability, implementation and privacy issues associated with such an investment.
In a memo this week, a number of groups -- such as Patient Privacy Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association of Social Workers and the AIDS Action Council -- plan to ask congressional leaders to address those concerns before they make large investments in health care IT.
Other groups have said that the stimulus package should include interoperability standards for health care IT (Ackley, Roll Call, 1/12).
States Hope for Medicaid Assistance
Meanwhile, governors have said that financial assistance for states included in the economic stimulus package should take the form of increased federal Medicaid funds, rather than funds allocated for new infrastructure projects, USA Today reports (Cauchon/Keen, USA Today, 1/13).Ray Scheppach, executive director of the National Governors Association, said that funds for infrastructure projects "don't do anything for state budgets" and that a 2% to 4% increase in federal Medicaid funds would "help enormously" (Keen, USA Today, 1/13). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.