Gingrich on EHRs in the 2009 stimulus

I don’t like to get political on this blog, but I’ve been thinking a lot about how the Newt Gingrich we’ve seen on the campaign trail of late is quite different from the Newt Gingrich who was a tireless advocate for health IT and EHRs from about 2004 to 2009.

Lately, Gingrich has, as primary candidates are wont to do, been pandering toward the more ideologically pure elements of his party, not addressing the center, as will be necessary during a general election. Notably, Gingrich has jumped on the “repeal Obamacare” bandwagon, essentially making the ridiculous argument that America does not need healthcare reform. That’s interesting, because Gingrich, after he left Congress, founded the Center for Health Transformation to push for technology-enabled health system improvement.

Back in 2004, Gingrich joined with strange bedfellow Hillary Clinton to advocate for a national, government-funded strategy to support adoption of health IT. That idea eventually morphed into the HITECH Act section of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus legislation. Gingrich, like most Republicans, opposed the bulk of the stimulus, but he was an ardent supporter of HITECH. Here’s the proof:

Now, though, he seems to be running away from, or at least not mentioning, the part of health reform that gave the world “meaningful use.” Yes, HITECH is part of health reform, whether the pundits, the mainstream media and the electorate know it or not.

Lest I let the Democrats off the hook, the Obama administration continues to feed the widely believed fallacy that healthcare reform is nothing more than an expansion of insurance coverage. As I keep saying, usually to receptive ears—at least within healthcare circles—health insurance is not the same as healthcare. Having insurance does not guarantee you will get good care. It only means that somebody else will pay the bill for at least part of your care. People with “great” insurance still are subject to  bureaucratic hassles, duplication of services, adverse drug events and even fatal medical errors.

Yet, listening to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius talk to the ideologically sympathetic Jon Stewart a week ago, you would think that health reform is completely about insurance coverage. Sebelius gave a lengthy interview that the Daily Show had to break into two parts, only one of which actually appeared on television. (The rest is only on the Web.) Not once did she and Stewart discuss an element of health reform other than insurance coverage. Watch for yourself.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Kathleen Sebelius Extended Interview Pt. 1
www.thedailyshow.com
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The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Kathleen Sebelius Extended Interview Pt. 2
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook