Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has scrapped a part of a recently passed budget bill meant to encourage use of a health information exchange in his state by long-term care providers and behavioral health centers.
Earlier this year, the Missouri Legislature failed to advance House and Senate legislation that would have established a commission to regulate HIEs.
The exchanges allow providers to track patients wherever they go for treatment, streamlining patient care and making it more efficient and accurate.
Currently, each provider or hospital participating in an HIE pays a monthly administrative fee which can range from $15 for physicians to thousands for a health system.
The Missouri bill would have paid those fees for long-term care and behavioral health providers, while all other providers would continue to pay out of pocket.
Nixon vetoed the line item as it would "unfairly exempt select providers,” he said in a statement.
Providers weren't exactly heartbroken.
“Because of the way the legislation is written, it's impossible to know where the funds would have gone in support of long term care and behavioral health,” said Dave Dillon, a spokesman for the Missouri Hospital Association.
Dillon, who said his group did not advocate for the amendment, said the definitions of "long-term care" and "behavioral health centers" were murky.
Then there's the issue of how much of the proposed $500,000 would have gone to providers in either category.
Others also questioned the relevance of the legislation. Nikki Strong, executive vice president of the Missouri Health Care Association, said her organization did not lobby for the provision and that she did not think it would have been an important advancement.
Nixon's line veto comes just a few months after the Missouri House and Senate were unable to pass legislation to establish a commission that would have regulated and expedited the exchange of patient records in the state.
Mike Dittemore, executive director of the Lewis and Clark Information Exchange, has said Kansas sets an example for its exchange of information among providers. But that linking Kansas to Missouri has been hard. The Lewis and Clark exchange is a regional electronic health network for northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas.
He encourages more states to follow Kansas' lead.
“For those that have robust exchange it allows the provider to focus on being a validator of information rather than having to investigate for each individual piece of medical information,” Dittemore said.