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What the 2014 Election Means for Healthcare

Posted on November 13, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

After the landslide victory by republicans in congress, the house and many governor races, I was really interested to think about how this could impact healthcare and healthcare IT. Luckily, the really smart publishing company (ok, they’re not a publisher, but they publish really great content), The Advisory Board Company, has an article that talks about what the election outcome means for healthcare.

Here are their 5 key takeaways:

  1. Republicans face uphill battle to make changes to the ACA
  2. Reconciliation gives Senate opportunity to impact health care spending
  3. Congress will take up important health care policies beyond the ACA
  4. Republican victories in key governor races may slow Medicaid expansion
  5. Health care will remain a focus area at state and federal levels

The first point is the one that many people are talking about. Without the Presidency, I’m not sure that the republicans can do much to change ACA. They might make some of the programs miserable or somehow pull funding from pieces of the ACA, but with the President still in office they won’t be able to do much.

The biggest thing they’ll have to deal with very soon is the next SGR fix (or whatever they do to deal with SGR). The SGR Fix or patch if you prefer expires in March. The battle between Congress and the White House is going to be brutal. I see the same theater that we saw play out last year happening again. They’ll wait until the final hour and then pass a patch that will get us by another year with very little change. I do wonder if they’ll attach another ICD-10 delay to the bill like they did in 2014.

I still think that healthcare IT in general is pretty bipartisan. There are a few in Congress that have made overtures about the HITECH act and meaningful use being a waste of money. I’m sure we’ll see some similar tunes again, but I think it’s unlikely to really change anything when it comes to healthcare IT and EHR.

Those are a few thoughts on how the election results will impact healthcare. What do you think? Will these election results impact anything else in healthcare?

88 New ACO Organizations – What Does That Mean?

Posted on July 24, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

It has been a really interesting couple months for those interested in ACO’s (Accountable Care Organizations) and healthcare. I love how Gregg Masters of ACO Watch called the ACO the “Child of the ACA (Accountable Care Act).” He even declares the SCOTUS supreme court ruling as a big battle won for the ACO. I certainly can’t disagree with him when it comes to the government ACO initiatives. The loss of ACA would definitely hamper much of the government’s work on ACOs. Although, he also acknowledges that ACA is still up in the air pending the Presidential election. ACA is directly in the republican cross hairs.

Politics aside, the ACO program is going forward. CMS recently named 88 new Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) that will take part in the Medicare Shared Saving Program (Originally it was 89 ACOs, but one organization dropped out).

You can see the full list of ACOs on the press release linked above, but I really like this image that The Advisory Board Company put together that shows the location of the various ACOs across the US (click image twice for full size):

I think this represents a pretty good distribution across the country. However, there are a few things that I find a bit disturbing about the organizations participating in the government ACO programs. The first is that many healthcare organizations that you think would be perfect fit for an ACO aren’t participating. Kaiser and IHC come to mind. I’ve heard that both organizations are very interested in ACOs, but not the government ACO programs. I think this is a bad sign for the government sponsored ACO programs.

The second is that only five of the ACOs applied for the version of the Medicare Shared Savings Program where they have a chance to earn a higher share of any savings, but they’ll also be accountable for any losses if the cost o the care increases. You might take a look back at my ACO Risks and Reward post. These five organizations have gone all in with the ACO program. With that said, I wonder why only five of them chose to participate in it? Shouldn’t we want more organizations to have some accountability and responsibility if they don’t improve care and lower costs?

As I have pointed out before, the ACO movement is happening and is not likely to slow down. Even if ACA or other government legislation is repealed, the move to ACOs is going to happen. With that knowledge and some of the comments above, it makes me wonder if the government should be the one funding an ACO initiative. Will their involvement help or hurt the overall ACO movement?

I’ll be interested to see how it goes for these new ACOs. As we’ve seen with EHR and meaningful use, we’ll have to be careful to filter through the messages coming out of CMS about the success or failure of the ACOs. As they progress we’re going to have to reach out to the ACOs and hear the first hand stories. If you’re an organization that’s participating, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Big Health IT News Flowing – ICD-10 Delayed, Meaningful Use Stage 2 Imminent, and More

Posted on February 17, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

If you live and love the EMR, EHR and Healthcare IT world like I do, then you’re enjoying all the big news that’s coming out right now. A part of me thinks that the big news is coming out because HIMSS is so close, but some of the news seems like it might not necessarily be timed directly to HIMSS. (To see company news coming out at HIMSS, check out our EMR, EHR and Healthcare IT News site.)

For those not keeping track, here’s a quick run down of some of the major news pieces I’ve seen that really point to larger trends in healthcare IT:

Meaningful Use Stage 2
We know that meaningful use stage 2 is imminent. It’s just a question of when we’re going to hear it. In fact, it might be announced as I’m writing this post. Neil Versel first queued us into the Meaningful Use Stage 2 Announcement prior to HIMSS, but the Twittersphere is also full of rumors about the announcement. Brian Ahier commented on my Facebook message about it:

Nothing is official until it’s released, but since Monday is a holiday it is very unlikely they will wait until next week. My understanding is that the review at the OMB is complete and the proposed rule is ready to be published…

For those who want a sneak preview on what to expect in meaningful use stage 2, check out Jennifer Dennard’s meaningful use stage 2 post.

ICD-10 Delayed
Many have wondered if ICD-10 would be delayed with most arguing that 5010, meaningful use and ICD-10 was a lot to change all at once. Two days ago I got an email from someone saying they thought ICD-10 wouldn’t be delayed. I replied that I wasn’t sure either way, but it seemed like there was movement that could make a delay quite possible. Although, I must admit that I didn’t even think the ICD-10 delay announcement would happen so quickly.

Regardless of prognostication, ICD-10 is going to be delayed. You can read my thoughts on the ICD-10 Delay on EMR Thoughts.

HIMSS Acquires mHealth Summit
Maybe this feels like bigger news since it’s so close to HIMSS and I can see how powerful this conference has become. You can read the press release on the acquisition here. This isn’t that surprising since HIMSS had partnered with the mHealth Summit last year. I think this spells really good things for the growth of the mHealth Summit. I’m not sure I’d want to be another mHealth conference, but there’s a niche for the right event.

I still have a hard time distinguishing mHealth from healthcare IT in general. There could be some differentiation, but I still believe that over time the dividing line between the two is going to be hard to see. Richard Scarfo, HIMSS’ vice president of vendor events (previously mHealth Summit director) is right to be concerned that it will be HIMSS 2.0.

Navinet Acquired by Blues Plans and Lumeris
Read more about the acquisition here. I must admit that I’m still trying to process exactly what this means. Although, one thing I’m sure it means we’re moving the tectonic ACO plates that will be necessary to change how we pay for healthcare.

Vince Kuraitis and Leonard Kish provide some interesting insight in this Google+ thread asking whether this is a shift from institution (enterprise) centered IT to patient centric IT or if it’s becoming payer centric IT. They also mention United’s restructuring of payments and Aetna’s acquisition spree as indicators of the shifting plates of healthcare reimbursement.

Aneesh Chopra as Senior Advisor to the Advisory Board Company
This isn’t as big of news, but it just came out so I thought I’d throw it in. For those that don’t know Aneesh Chopra is now former CTO of the US. Everyone just wondered what he’d do next. Brian Ahier posted that Aneesh Chopra landed at The Advisory Board Company where he worked previously for about 10 years. Looks like Aneesh and his energy and enthusiasm will still be around healthcare. I think that’s a very good thing.