Despite Republican opposition, lawmakers in the House on Wednesday passed a massive legislative package aimed at creating and retaining jobs in the U.S., but which also shores up safety net healthcare programs and allots billions of dollars to help spur the adoption of health information technology.
Richard Pollack, executive vice president of the American Hospital Association, called passage of the House bill a good first step, but added that there are other provisions lawmakers should consider. Smaller hospitals, with fewer than 25 beds, should have better access to the health IT funding, he said in an e-mail. We also call on Congress to ensure the temporary funding increase in the federal Medicaid match is used to maintain current benefits and provider payments, he added.
The bill, which passed on a party line 244-188 vote, gives a two-year, temporary increase to the federal share of Medicaid by $87 billion and offers providers more than $20 billion in incentive payments to more quickly adopt electronic health records and other components of a fully wired system. Other provisions in the $819 billion bill would offer $1.1 billion for comparative-effectiveness research; $2 billion to the National Institutes of Health; and $900 million to help better prepare for a national health disaster.
The significant investment in HIT will pave the way for widespread adoption, and we look forward to working with the new administration to ensure that it is implemented in a manner that will work in physicians offices and provide maximum benefit to both patients and physicians, said American Medical Association Board Chairman Joseph Heyman in a written statement.
Read "House passes stimulus bill" and " Buy American IT provision cut from stimulus bill" for more.