The looming budget battle may dominate the news from Capitol Hill, but deficit hawks aren't likely to succeed in cutting federal stimulus law funds earmarked for health IT incentive payments, said Dave Roberts, vice president of government relations for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, at the trade group's convention in Orlando, Fla.
“Currently, there are seven pieces of legislation on Capitol Hill that want to rescind any funding for economic stimulus,” Roberts said during his annual briefing on doings in Washington. But it's already too late to claw back $2 billion in direct appropriations from the stimulus law, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS. That money has been spent or obligated, Roberts said.
Only one of the seven bills appears to take aim at the big IT money, the estimated $27 billion in funds that could be distributed for EHR incentive payments to providers under the Medicare and Medicaid programs, Roberts said. But it is uncertain whether that bill would pass even the Republican-controlled House, much less the Senate, he said. And if it did, President Barack Obama would likely veto it, and Roberts said there is even less of a chance that opposition could raise enough votes to override a veto.