The Internal Revenue Service may soon rule that not-for-profit hospitals are allowed to subsidize the cost of electronic-prescribing and electronic medical-records systems for their affiliated physicians without jeopardizing the hospitals tax-exempt status, an HHS official told health informaticists Sunday during a pre-conference session at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society trade show in New Orleans.
Physician Karen Bell, director of healthcare information technology adoption at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS, told attendees at a HIMSS panel discussion that help is on the way. Last August, HHS and the CMS came through with rules granting relief from Stark and anti-kickback laws for IT subsidies, but a number of not-for-profit hospitals are still holding back over fears of the IRS.
Bell said ONCHIT officials believe they have reached a resolution with the IRS on breaking the logjam. The proposal still must be reviewed and cleared by others in the tax agency. There has been a lot of discussion, Bell said. The IRS is aware of it, and were pushing real hard as well. Bell said she believes the IRS will release its ruling by spring. -- by Joseph Conn