The House is set to pass a massive $816 billion economic stimulus bill that earmarks more than $100 billion in healthcare spending, including $87 billion more for state Medicaid budgets and another $22 billion to help move doctors and hospitals from paper to computers.
The health IT portion of the bill requires that HHS develop a set of initial health information standards by year-end, clearing the way for speedier adoption by the provider community. Under the bill, physicians could get up to $65,000 in provider payments under Medicare and Medicaid to help spur the adoption and use of electronic health records. Hospitals would be eligible for up to $2 million in payments. Providers who dont adopt the technology would face financial penalties in 2016.
Democratic leaders pitched the healthcare provisions as key to economic recovery, saying that the high cost of healthcare is a top concern among individuals and families. Without reform, We wont be able to afford the kind of healthcare that Americans need, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said on the House floor as members started debate on the bill.
Two Senate committees cleared their version of the legislative package on Tuesday. By and large, the bills mirror each otherespecially on the healthcare portion.