Legality of Obamacare could have implications for healthcare IT, says HIMSS

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Experts at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) believe that the Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) could have lasting implications for healthcare IT initiatives, reports Information Week.

Richard Hodge, senior director of Congressional affairs at HIMSS, outlined several major healthcare IT projects that are dependent on the survival of the PPACA. Health information exchanges (HIEs), the transition to Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and the development of unified healthcare IT standards are among the initiatives threatened if the PPACA is deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

“The ACA built upon the foundation laid by the [Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH)] Act,” said Hodge, as quoted by the news source. “The ACA included provisions related to quality reporting, reimbursement based on quality, data collection standards and rules, and health IT workforce development – all of which are important enhancements to the foundation laid by the HITECH Act.”

However, Gary Capistrant, the American Telemedicine Association’s senior director of public policy, told the news source that even if the ACA is ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, it is unlikely to have any significant impact on telehealth initiatives.

According to Healthcare IT News, former senator Bill Frist said that there has been strong bipartisan support for current healthcare IT initiatives such as HIEs and the transition to ACO business models.

Following the publication of a report by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Task Force on Delivery System Reform and Health IT earlier this year, Frist said that physicians need access to reliable patient data if they are to provide a high quality of care to their patients. However, the growing federal expense of HIEs and other large-scale healthcare IT infrastructure projects has polarized opinions on present legislation.